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Mary’s Musings: Caring Conversations

By Mary Bridges, chaplain

The seasons of our lives are many and varied. Some are familiar and filled with joy and growth. Some feel cold, barren and filled with overwhelming uncertainty. I believe that a great deal of who we are and what we do depends upon our attitude.

I have written and spoken many times about the importance of gratitude in our lives. I have shared with many that I never once imagined that I would be doing what I am doing. This is never where I envisioned myself. Having said this, I am extremely grateful that I am in this place at this time of my life. I have been privileged to learn so much from family, colleagues, our residents and their families.

My husband, daughter and I have all dealt with cancer and the uncertainty that it brought to our lives. I have experienced the loss of family and friends every way imaginable. From long-lingering illnesses, sudden deaths from heart attacks, suicide, murder, drownings, and car accidents.

I have had a number of wonderful educational experiences that have taught me much, and I have several good resources that I think are most helpful as they look at this season of their lives and decisions they need to have in place for the next transitions of their lives.

I am going to begin offering a series of “Caring Conversations” using materials from The Unbroken Circle and Caring Conversations. These could be individual conversations with you and your family, or I could do group conversations. We think of these conversations as taking place primarily with older people, and it is important to have these conversations, but in reality, they are for everyone because illness can strike anyone at any age.

In our conversations, we will spend time reflecting, we will explore quality of life and basic healthcare decisions. We will define terminology, what documents should be in place and decisions can be arrived at.

For some, this process can be very difficult. I believe that if we are well informed then we can make the decisions. I think there is no greater gift that you can give to your loved ones than a clear understanding of your wishes.

Check the box if you know what these are:
◻ Durable Power of Attorney
◻ Living Will
◻ Do Not Resuscitate
◻ Advance Directives
◻ Palliative Care
◻ Hospice
◻ Competence

If you were unable to check all the boxes, then perhaps “Caring Conversations” would be a good opportunity for you. If you’d like to set up a time for us to talk, you can reach me by phone, 785-825-1366 ext. 1153, or email,

I believe these well-known words from Ecclesiastes sum up life pretty well. Life continuously changes. Some changes we cannot stop from happening. Nevertheless, some can be better if we are better prepared for them.

For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:
a time to be born, and a time to die;
a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted;
a time to kill, and a time to heal;
a time to break down, and a time to build up;
a time to weep, and a time to laugh;
a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
a time to throw away stones, and a time to gather stones together;
a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
a time to seek, and a time to lose;
a time to keep, and a time to throw away;
a time to tear, and a time to sew;
a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
a time to love, and a time to hate;
a time for war, and a time for peace.
Ecclesiastes 3:1-8

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