Tuesday, September 25, 2012

After Cremation: Rituals, Storage, Disposal of Ashes (Cremains)--Research, Video 1:43

Although unique funerals continue to increase in popularity, cremation is definitely in the mainstream these days as a method of body disposal. People are finding interesting ways to dispose ashes or cremains of loved ones.

Traditionally, cremains are often stored by families who keep them in urns and other containers that vary in their uniqueness. These may include vases with pedestals or even personalized teddy bears with hidden pouches. Teddy bears can be sewn from the deceased person’s clothes. Among other uses, cremains are being used in jewelry, shotgun shells, and fireworks. In terms of destinations, cremains can be stored in cemetery plots, mausoleum, or scattered in a garden or body of water. For $5,300 cremains can be sent aloft into outer space, while $13,000 can send them into luna orbit.

One research study on cremation focused on how 87 people described their experiences with cremation, cremains disposal, and rituals regarding  their deceased loved ones. How did they view the experience? They felt the experiences were positive. Most research participants preferred to be cremated and honored through nontraditional rituals themselves.

With so many choices available, people should make plans in advance regarding disposal of their cremains if they choose to be cremated. In this video titled Scattering Parents’ Ashes, a daughter fulfills her deceased parents’ dream of world travel. View the unusual way she accomplishes this that includes many other people. If you choose to be cremated, what would you want to happen to your cremains after death?

Frances Shani Parker, Author
Becoming Dead Right: A Hospice Volunteer in Urban Nursing Homes is available in paperback at many booksellers in America and other countries and in e-book form at Amazon and Barnes and Noble booksellers.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Hospice-Palliative Care Volunteer Retention: Know How to Hold Them (Research)

                           Miss Ruby with Hospice Volunteer Frances Shani Parker

You’re a hospice-palliative care volunteer coordinator with a volunteer quota you’re always striving to maintain. Can secrets to keeping them be found in this research reported in the American Journal of Hospice and Palliative Care?

In this study, the 33-item Volunteer Retention Questionnaire was used to determine what really motivates volunteers to keep doing this work that baffled onlookers often tell us must be depressing. (If they only knew how much we enjoy it!) With responses from 119 hospice-palliative care volunteers from three community-based hospice programs, these were the results of how volunteers rated the importance of items in their decisions to keep on volunteering:

1)   First and foremost, they enjoyed the work itself. (Imagine that!)

2)   They felt adequately prepared/trained to perform their duties. (Coordinators, you’re doing a good job here!)

3)   They learned from their patients’ experiences and from listening to their stories. (Remember listen and learn?)

An interesting result is that being recognized (service pins, newsletters, etc.), volunteer coordinator phone calls and cards, and reimbursement for out-of-pocket expenses were among the lowest rated in retention importance. Personally, I think this speaks to the sincere and giving nature of volunteers, but these should still continue on some level. Praise is still a big motivator. 

Frances Shani Parker, Author
Becoming Dead Right: A Hospice Volunteer in Urban Nursing Homes is available in paperback at many booksellers in America and other countries and in e-book form at Amazon and Barnes and Noble booksellers.
Hospice and Nursing Homes Blog

Monday, September 10, 2012

Advice for Caregivers: Life, Death, Bereavement (Video 2:56)

Although many caregivers are actively involved in patient care for a considerable amount of time, they may not be confident or knowledgeable sometimes about the specifics of caring for someone else while maintaining their own quality of life. In addition, thoughts of preparing for a loved one’s death and their own future bereavement after the loved one dies often lurk in the background of their daily living. Healthcare providers can be a great source of support and information for caregivers in terms of confidence building and advisement.

The National Family Caregivers Association shares the following four-point message of advice for caregivers:

1)   Believe in yourself.

2)   Protect your health.

3)   Reach out for help.

4)   Speak up for your rights.

Frances Shani Parker, Author
Becoming Dead Right: A Hospice Volunteer in Urban Nursing Homes is available in paperback at many booksellers and in e-book form at Amazon and Barnes and Noble booksellers.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Older Adult, First-Time Grandparents: Interview with Frances Shani Parker (Baby Video)

New Grandparents Mitch and Lonnetta White with Amelia

Becoming grandparents for the first time can be quite spectacular, especially for older adults. My friends Lonnetta and Mitch White recently began this wonderful journey just in time for Grandparents Day on September 9th. Their contagious excitement over the birth of "Miss Amelia" prompted me to feature them on this blog. Not surprisingly, they were eager to share their pride, joys, concerns, and expectations in this interview.

1) What were your thoughts as you anticipated the arrival of your first grandchild?


I have/had feelings of extreme happiness, joy, and excitement!
My thoughts were fantasies of how wonderful it is going to be to love and spoil a grandchild the way I was loved and spoiled by my paternal grandmother.


I remembered the anticipated arrival of my son. Of course, in those days we didn’t know if we were having a girl or boy. The imaging technology simply hadn’t gotten that far. But I was there in the delivery room and had the privilege of seeing Amelia when she emerged from the delivery room. What a wonderful opportunity!

2) How did you feel during the first days after Amelia was born?


I felt proud and on top of the world. I was also pleased that she was FINALLY here healthy and absolutely gorgeous! I felt blessed to see, hold, kiss, cuddle, and in all ways experience my granddaughter.


I was elated, in wonder of this child who came here with her eyes wide open.

3) What do you love most about this new chapter in you life?


Life is good! Optimism is a constant companion and more easily accessible. My existence has given me a new lens through which I view the world. Every time I think of her I find myself smiling!


She’s been here before!

4) Grandparents are an important influence in their grandchildren’s lives. How does Amelia influence your life?


I brag incessantly. I now have a subscription to a magazine on parenting. In addition, I read all articles about babies and parenting. I want to do all that I can to help her to be the best at whatever it is she wants to be.


I am the proud grandpa who never loses an occasion to show the latest picture or video of Amelia.  She’s the most observant child I have ever seen. I just want to be called Grampa, not Grandpa, but simply Grampa.

8)    What advice do you have for other grandparents in making their grandparent journey successful?


LOVE, LOVE, LOVE your precious little ones! Enjoy, enjoy, enjoy! Encourage and support them in their endeavors to become happy, successful adults.


I’m too early in this wonderful adventure to offer advice to others, but I do know that, whether you’re raising a child or supporting your grandchildren, it’s extremely important to show them love by attending to their needs, teaching them to share, and helping them to grow beyond themselves. Right now, Amelia is understandably egocentric. The world is her oyster. Getting her in another structured environment is the next step towards preparing her to interact with the world. She’ll be ready sooner than we think. She’s been here before.

Lonnetta and Mitch, thank you so much for your insightful responses to these questions on grandparenting. Happy Grandparents Day! Of course, our interview would not be complete without Amelia having her say. Welcome to the world, Amelia!

   Another Wonderful Grandchild! Welcome to the World, Emory!


Emory's parents (Angie and Pops (Mitch, II) told us of the probable arrival of a new child in June 2015 while we were helping Miss Amelia celebrate her third birthday. We were all extremely excited. But I am Old School and did not want to know the sex of the new baby until Angie gave birth. I felt the same way when she was pregnant with Amelia. Someone let the secret out.

We wanted to be there at her birth just as we were when Amelia was born. But another set of grandparents who were not there when Amelia was born had their turn. Lonnetta and I were introduced to Emory when she was two weeks old by Amelia. It was very clear that Amelia was Emory's big sister. We witnessed the beginning of a bond that only gets stronger (in spite of the occasional sister tugs of war).


I was surprised to learn that our daughter-in-law was pregnant and happy to know that another grandchild was on the way. Since becoming Nana (my first choice was Granny), I am consumed with a desire to nurture, please and satisfy. Becoming Emory's grandparent is a blessing. It is another opportunity to witness and contribute to the existence, development and maturation of a very special individual. 

Looking at Emory after she was born, I already knew I would do all I can to encourage her to be a proactive person who cares about improving society. I could already dream of her success in whatever field she chooses. I knew then that I wanted her to be a confident, independent and successful young woman. Emory's birth affirmed once again that children are God's gift to us. The miracle of meeting Emory was breathtaking. 

Amelia and Emory

You can read more about Lonnetta, Mitch, Amelia, and Emory at this blog post: "Grandparent Journey: Older Adult Seniors"

Frances Shani Parker, Author

Becoming Dead Right: A Hospice Volunteer in Urban Nursing Homes is available in paperback and e-book editions in America and other countries at online and offline booksellers.
Hospice and Nursing Homes Blog