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Monday, November 28, 2016

Holiday Love Wishes After Death (Video 3:30)


Dying from ovarian cancer a few years ago, Brenda Schmitz had a lot on her mind. A wife and mother of four young boys, she envisioned leaving her family and a few others something very special that would enhance their lives and memories of her love for them in a most surprising manner. Her idea focused on a letter including her final wishes, a letter that was not like any most people normally write or receive. Brenda’s written expressions were to be delivered to a radio station after she died. Specific instructions indicated the letter could not be sent until something very special took place. 

Experience the real reason for the holiday season in “I Love You Whoever You Are,” Brenda’s heartwarming story about her unique end-of-life wishes.


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.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

The Power of Thank You (Gratitude Research, Video 3:27)

Thank you. We often say these words when we are moved by the virtue of others extending positive impressions to us. Thank you. We enjoy receiving these words disguised as grateful hugs that hold us so tightly we feel ribs of joy press against our essence. Psychologists call our declarations of gratitude "other-praising emotions" that build bridges connecting us to people and experiences that promote good feelings. As thankful people praising our benefactors, we create something glorius and special together, something akin to a soul-smacking kiss.

While it may seem obvious that gratitude has powerful feel-good benefits, considerable scientific research on gratitude also confirms, not only the goodness generated by our expressions of appreciation, but also our benefactors' fond sentiments regarding our shared response. Studies also report that an attitude of gratitude can improve our health. When people were asked to write five things for which they were grateful during a week, improvements in their well-being were evident in test results. These are some of the benefits illustrating the power of thank you:

1.    Better health
2.    Sounder sleep
3.    More satisfaction with life
4.    Kinder behavior

An added research bonus reports that the more we show appreciation for our blessings, the more blessings we receive. In this video, New York Times science columnist John Tierney joins "CBS This Morning" to discuss more health benefits of giving thanks and various ways to cultivate gratitude in our lives. Thank you!




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

Monday, November 14, 2016

Unclaimed Dead: Description, Ritual, Disposal (Research, Video 1:56)

Sometimes people die, and no one steps up to claim their remains. Perhaps the next of kin could not be found. Maybe they were found, but could not or would not take the responsibility for various reasons. Some bodies are donated to science, but many are not. Who are these bodies that may never receive an earthly send-off? In Macon, Indiana the statistics on unclaimed bodies vs. claimed bodies reported this:

1) The unclaimed dead were disproportionately male, slightly more likely to be Black, younger at death, and dead from natural causes.
2) They had unknown marital status and were equally likely as not to have next of kin.
3) Instead of dying in a hospital, they died from external causes, and they were subject to autopsy.
4) Nearly half of the unclaimed bodies had next of kin who did not claim them; the other half had no identifiable next of kin.
5) Most unclaimed bodies were identified by means of fingerprints or DNA.

What are medical examiners around the country doing as unclaimed bodies accumulate at morgues? Are bodies ever honored with death rituals? What about disposal of these remains? This is how it’s done in Detroit, Michigan.


A few years ago in Detroit, Michigan, I attended a death ritual service including a small community of people who meet monthly at a local funeral home where the morgue sends names and birthdates of unclaimed bodies. Anyone can attend. The day I participated, we paid our respects to 28 people. Together we engaged in a moving ritual honoring the unclaimed deceased. 

The service included heartfelt words, music, printed programs, American flags, candles, and beautiful white roses representing each deceased honoree. As the name and birthdate of each deceased person was read, our enthusiastic response of “May he/she rest in peace” felt exhilarating and empowering, knowing our presence served as testimony to their lives. We sang in celebration of this momentous occasion. Each honoree had been claimed.

In this video, Albert Samuels of the Detroit Wayne County medical examiner’s office, Betsy Deak of Perry Funeral Home, and Anthony Tocco of Knollwood Memorial Park explain how their organizations respond to honoring unclaimed bodies.




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

Monday, November 7, 2016

Women Veterans’ Military Sexual Assaults (Research, Video 5:07)


Sexual trauma experienced by women serving in the U.S. military is a topic many people avoid. It’s much easier to speak only in positive terms about the military while overlooking the horrendous injustices perpetrated within. Abuse covers a range of negative behaviors, but most of the research, treatment, and outreach are focused on sexual assaults and the experiences of individuals serving in Afghanistan and Iraq. Protect Our Defenders Foundation is a human rights organization that honors, supports, and gives voice to the brave women and men in uniform who have been raped or sexually assaulted by fellow service members.

This research on women veterans’ military sexual trauma is based on reports by women who described, not only their military sexual assaults, but also barriers to reporting incidents of sexual misconduct and sexual assault, and the challenges they faced when seeking care. Research data revealed these results:

1)   Out of 52 female veterans, most (90%) were subjected to at least one form of military sexual trauma.

2)   These included eight (15%) who attempted to report the incident(s).

3)   Over half of the assailants who assaulted them were of a higher rank than the survivors.

4)   The majority of veterans remained silent due to lack of options to report the status of the perpetrators and fear of retaliation.

Nineteen year-old Army PFC LaVena Johnson was found dead on a military base in Balad, Iraq. The U.S. Army ruled Lavena's death a suicide, but an autopsy report and photographs revealed Johnson had a broken nose, black eye, loose teeth, burns from a corrosive chemical on her genitals, and a gunshot wound that seemed inconsistent with suicide. In this video, LaVena's father, John Johnson, shares his family's fight to get answers from the military about his daughter's death.




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.