Voice recordings: a living legacy

Carol RoachStarred Page By Carol Roach, 19th Feb 2015 | Follow this author | RSS Feed | Short URL http://nut.bz/15au4d52/
Posted in Wikinut>Health>General Health>Elderly & Home Care

This article was written in November 2006. It is as relevant today as it was back then.The article explains how people in paliative care can pass on stories of their lives or special message after their passing.

Introduction

Important this article was written in November 2006. It is as relevant today as it was back then.The article explains how people in paliative care can pass on stories of their lives or special message after their passing.

I was asked to do this write up for Hot Psychology Magazine about this My Stories Program. An edited version appeared in Medhunters magazine, and it was published on Storytime Tapestry and gather.com

What legacy can one leave their family as their last days draw near? Are all the fences mended, and have all the words been said?

The Hospice of Michigan'

For those in palliative care, it may not always be the case. Sometimes the words do not come easy in a face to face encounter. Loved ones may no longer have the ability to vocalize their wishes and concerns. Sometimes because of careers, personal commitments, or relatives unable to make it in from out of state; a face to face encounter may not be possible.

Time can be a cruel opponent leaving us with much unfinished business.
The Hospice of Michigan has just released a new program (in 2006) called "My Stories," which records the voices and stories of patients in hospice care. What better way is there to remember, these stories, and the voice of the person for generations to come?

The Hospice of Michigan's goal is to provide quality end of life care to their patients. This program adds additional quality to their patients' lives by enabling their patients to reminisce about cherished memories and leave this legacy for their family for a lifetime.

My stories program

The Hospice of Michigan's goal is to provide quality end of life care to their patients. This program adds additional quality to their patients' lives by enabling their patients to reminisce about cherished memories and leave this legacy for their family for a lifetime.
The "My Stories" program is a statewide service giving palliative care patients an opportunity to record their personal stories about love, childhood, history, humor, and other topics important to the patient and intended for their family. It was designed to help patients and family deal with the emotional and spiritual issues they face when one is dying.

Trained Hospice of Michigan volunteers administer the interview at the patient's home, record it on CD they call the "My Stories Audio Memory Book" and give it to the patient as a gift. The entire life review process of recording each patient's treasured stories typically lasts between 45 minutes to 1 hour. The service is free for patients interested in recording their life stories and is funded by private donations.

In 2004, Hospice of Michigan volunteers donated more 64,000 hours of service which included over 35,000 hours of patient care. Today, they undergo 20 hours of patient care and bereavement training and receive an additional four hours on the My Stories program to master the equipment and learn interview techniques.

The benefits of the program have profound effects on both the patient and family. As a writer, I wrote my life story for my young grandson. I wanted him to know me, the young girl, the wife, mother, professional, and grandmother. I wanted to share the essence of me. I was fortunate; I had the talent to write and the gift of time. However, writing may not be an option for palliative care patients, who have neither writing ability, or time, or the health to do it any longer. My Stories program offers a viable alternative. Furthermore, as good as my book may be, my grandson will not have the opportunity to hear my voice. He will not be able to hear the sighs, the tears, the elation, and the laughter that in turn becomes the essence of me. The My Stories Program beautifully fills in that void.

Hospice of Michigan social worker Jennifer Eitniear with the Grand Rapids team states: "So many of our patients have interesting stories and a rich heritage that the younger people just don't know about. What a gift it is to be able to leave these stories with a family."

The Stamins family

The Stammis family has been blessed by this wonderful program. Mike Stammis, age 44, a brain cancer patient, was able to do the interview in January, before he lost his ability to talk. According to Marilyn Reed, social worker with the Grand Rapids team, "When asked what he wanted the boys to remember, he answered 'how proud I am of them."

Cindy Stammis is thrilled that the Hospice of Michigan provided their family with a video-recorded interview with Mike including recollections of his childhood and messages to each of the boys - 19 year old Sean, 17 year old Corey, and 14 year old Casey. She knows that Mike will pass away before the boys reach manhood.

"This video is so important to us," Cindy said. "This is something the boys can treasure the rest of their lives and can share with their own children."


Dottie Deremo, president and CEO of Hospice of Michigan, concludes "Our families often tell us that they wish they could hear the sound of their loved one's voice, or their laugh. In our home we have hundreds of photos, but forget to capture the sound of someone's voice that we loved so much, and the stories that have made them special. We think that the Hospice of Michigan My Stories audio memory book will be a great comfort to families for years to come."

photos are taken from the public domain

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Tags

Living Legacy, Memories, Paliative Care, Voice Recordings

Meet the author

author avatar Carol Roach
Retired therapist and author of two books, freelance writer, newsletter editor, and blogger. I write, health, mental health, women's issues, animal , celebrity, history, and SEO articles.

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Comments

author avatar Peter B. Giblett
19th Feb 2015 (#)

I was talking about this very subject with my wife yesterday, she was talking about her mother and how we have no recordings of her voice (video was not a part of the conversation but certainly very relevant) and how we were starting to forget her voice, we both remember how she used to leave messages on the telephone answer machine, which went " Hello it is mum here calling." that was all she said, but we don't even have such a recording.

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author avatar Kingwell
19th Feb 2015 (#)

This is a terrific idea and one that I hope will spread throughout the world. I want to leave something to my children and grandchildren and this is exactly the sort of thing that one be appreciated. Thank you for sharing this great post. Blessings.

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