Thank you to Suzanne C. Walker for the use of her fonts Old General Store and Adorable in my header. If you love 'em you can get them from Digital Scrapbook Place. (psssssttt...I put a link down below so you don't have to remember the www. part)

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Serving Life - a documentary

Serving Life - Trailer

I wish that I could have uploaded the video trailer to this extraordinary documentary.  But the link will have to do for now.
I am a strong proponent for Hospice.  If you do not know what hospice is, it is the idea the those who are moving on to the last stages of their lives, should do so at home without the unnecessary medical interventions, surrounded by friends and family - making memories to last their lifetimes, and to do so in comfort and as pain free as possible. (I realize that there are English teachers everywhere cringing at that sentence structure)  If you believe that death should be fought tooth and nail up to the bitter end and then have CPR with perhaps mechanical ventilation, hospice isn't for you.  Hospice is designed to add quality, not necessarily quantity to your life.
This documentary, shown on the Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN), is narrated by Forrest Whitaker.  This hospice program is within the walls of Angola - Louisiana State Prision.   As their Warden says, these are the worst of the worst with average sentences being 90 years.   These men freely tell you what they did to get into the prison.  Robbery, rape, murder, these men have done it all.  But for some reason, they want to get into the facilities hospice program as a caretaker to the dying.  This work is difficult having to bath, shave, dress, a man.  Learning to change a bed with a patient in it, clean and dress pressure ulcers (bed sores), and in the end having to hold vigil at the bedside of a man whom you have carefully and lovingly taken care of, and watch him take his last breath in this life.  As part of the program, there is a gentleman who makes quilts for the dying.  All original designs, freehand.  These quilts keep warm cold limbs and are a visual reminder to the patient that they are cared for by their prison family; they are not alone and will not die alone.  These quilts accompany the patient either on their coffin or in their coffin.
This is a documentary that is, in my opinion, a must see.  There is a metamorphosis of a sort that unfolds with those chosen to be in the program.  From Killer to Caretaker is a fascinating change to see.  None of those who were in the documentary used their hospice service as a stepping stone to parole, I didn't even see one who said that they were a "changed" man, to use a cliched term.  In place of words, there was action, which for me, means more than words.  Men who were hard and calloused became caring and empathetic.
There was an inner strength that develops with hospice.  Doing "grunt" work day after day, changing diapers and dressing painful, smelly wounds and for what?  What do you get in the end?  Your patient dies; its nothing glamorous.
I cried watching this show.  I cried for the those in the program, both patient and caretaker.  I cried at the change in the lives of the caretakers.  I cried to see the quilts made with such great care.  I cried for the dignity shown to the patients, even to those who, if their crimes were made known, would probably have been killed by the prison population.  All are equal in hospice.  I cried for the family members who found their loved ones again.  Families who have a second chance, and fathers who see that their actions will affect their sons and daughters for a lifetime and want to change that sentence.
I hope you click on the link and watch the trailer.  I hope that  you will be able to see the entire documentary.  Serving the dying is serving life.

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