This summer I faced a very difficult visit with my friend, Amy, who was in the final days of living with breast cancer. It was a trip that I knew I must make. I had promised Amy when I moved from the East to the West, that would see her again before she left us all. To me, a promise is a promise, and I could not have rested until I held up my part of the deal.
Had I not gone, there would be so much I would have missed. I saw for myself the value of grief counseling. The grief counselors had done a wonderful job in preparing not only Amy for her death, but her husband and her daughter, as best they could, for their loss of a loved one. We talked about the check list Amy had on her mind and she had just ticked off the last task by showing her husband how to pay the bills that she had always taken care of.
The trip, albeit a sad and difficult one, showed me exactly what the documentary film "Pioneers of Hospice: Changing the Face of Dying" talks about so sensitively. Through hospice and grief and bereavement counseling, death is dealt with in a much more open and dignified manner than it was years ago.
I left feeling better about how Amy's survivors will go forward without her. Had I not gone to visit, I never would have known.
As I boarded the plane to leave, I couldn't help but think how silly was I to be afraid to fly alone for the first time, when Amy was not afraid to die.