Spring 2017

Sharing our special moments
with you.
Prepare to Care:
Completing an Advance Directive

    An advance directive helps ensure your wishes are known and honored when you are no longer able to speak for yourself. Join us to hear Joan Lunden tell her own personal caregiving story, and to learn from community experts about the care decisions needed to complete the Maine Health Care Advance Directive form. Thursday, May 11th at Hannaford Hall, USM Portland Campus. Cost - $25, including light lunch. Seven free post-conferences will be held in Falmouth, Bridgton, Cape Elizabeth, Freeport, Biddeford, Kennebunk, and Sanford.

To register, and for more informationclick here. 

Tricia Granzier at the Smaha Gallery:
When Art Meets End of Life
Every few months the Smaha Gallery, located in the core of Gosnell Memorial Hospice House, gets a makeover. One collection of art is taken down and a new collection is hung, the former artist nominating the next to take their place. All visiting artists are local and most of their pieces focus on scenes and objects of coastal Maine life. From idyllic watercolors, to psychedelic acrylic landscapes, to close-up photos of birds, each artist brings their unique perspective on our home state to Gosnell’s walls. 
We recently sat down with one of our former artists, Tricia Granzier of Scarborough, to discuss her experience hanging her art in Gosnell.

When asked to show her art in the Smaha Gallery, Tricia says she was immediately drawn to the idea and the space.

I was touched that the idea for the gallery and the donation of the hanging system and space was donated by a man whose mother, Agnes Smaha, had been cared for and spent her last days at Gosnell and who was herself an artist. What a wonderful way to honor someone and to carry on her legacy. And what an honor to be one of the artists to show my work on those same walls.

After installing her collection, Tricia says she was moved by the House's comforting atmosphere, created by the “caring and special group” of people who work there. She also described a feeling of serendipity:
I had… the sense that, for any artist who shows their work there, there is a connection and a reason for their particular art to be there at that particular time. I sold a piece to a woman whose mother had passed during the time my work was there. The daughter obviously liked the painting itself but what really spoke to her was my signature which is simply my first name. It happened also to be her mother’s name – spelled the same way. It will always be one of my most interesting sales. And there were other interesting connections as well. It was just a really unique, beautiful experience for me as I felt it really touched the core of what art can do and is all about. 

One of those other interesting connections? The day before Tricia hung her art at Gosnell, her 11 year old Golden Retriever Boomer passed away. His lifetime vet lost her battle with cancer at the hospice house a month later. 
People tend to see art through the prism of their own circumstances. At the Smaha Gallery, artists encounter patients and families who may be seeing their work through very different eyes than viewers at other galleries. The visiting artist program is a gift for Hospice of Southern Maine and we are so grateful for the contributions of our artists. We're glad to hear it’s a gift for them, too.
The Rise of "Auto-obituaries" in the Age of the Selfie
The acts of dying and of snapping a selfie may be, by definition, mutually exclusive. However, there is an emerging trend in the obituary pages – the so-called selfie obit or the autobituary. In an age where our entire lives are curated and broadcast on social media, it seems that the obituary is the final frontier in more ways than one.

Traditionally, the obituary is a final summing up of a person’s life – where they were born, raised, lived and died. What they did in their lives and those they left behind. What and who they loved. All summarized in a few short lines. A lifetime reduced to a series of bullet points. At their best, obituaries memorialize what made that person who they were to those who knew and loved them and to those upon whom the decedent made a lasting impression. They’re fond and emotional and inspirational.

But newspaper space can be expensive and in a time when people have moved across the country and have family and friends spread across the world, there’s always a question of in which paper it should run. With the advent of social media, the impulse to control how we’re seen seems to be giving rise to an impulse to control how we’re remembered.

“We’re seeing truly personalized and reflective obituaries infused with the personalities of the deceased,” commented Adam Walker, owner and funeral director at Conroy-Tully Walker Funeral Home. “Websites and social media sites have allowed longer obituaries and the change in character we’re seeing is indicative of a change in how we handle death.”

Daryl Cady, CEO of Hospice of Southern Maine, suggests that this desire for personalized, reflective remembrances can be an important part of end of life for both patients and their loved ones.

“No two lives are the same and at end of life, it’s important that remembrances of a person reflect their individuality," says Cady. More and more, patients want to control what’s said about them, how they’re remembered, and in some cases, leave with one last laugh or let go of some long-held burden. Working on an obituary for oneself can be incredibly therapeutic, highlighting both the best parts of one’s life and those bits of unfinished business they want to put to rest.” 

As self-written obituaries and social media memorial pages such as Facebook’s “If I Die” feature become more prominent, Walker and Cady have some advice:
  • Walker says to leave no detail out – “write down everything that made you happy, that you’re proud of, that you want people to know about you. You can edit later, but start with a list of everything.”
  • “Think about the things you want your surviving family and loved ones to know,” says Cady. “In some cases, these self-written obituaries have led to a greater understanding of who that person was. Family members learn something about their loved one they never knew.”
  • “After writing it all down, regardless of how finished it is, put it on file,” recommends Walker. Give the draft to someone that is handling your affairs. It could be a loved one, an attorney, a funeral director.
  • Finally, write in your own voice. The biggest benefit of writing your obituary yourself is that your voice, your personality can shine through one more time. 

  Hospice of Southern Maine 180 US Route 1, Scarborough, ME 04074

Phone: (207) 289-3640 / Fax: (207) 883-1040 / Email: give@hospiceofsouthernmaine.org

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