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Visiting a Cemetery, A Child’s Request

Have I got a story for you! It’s not the kind you typically hear about in the middle of summer camp. The story involves Gabriela, my almost 8-year old daughter. On our way to camp, little Gabby and I would pass by a cemetery connected to church property. She had shown interest in visiting one for some time. Given that her mother and father combined have accumulated almost 30 years of service to the aging and dying, her curiosity was nothing of a surprise.

Well…one weekday morning she asked again. “I want to bless the people,” she added. We both agreed that after camp the two of us would drive up and walk around. So on a Tuesday, around lunch time and after camp let out, we pulled up to the cemetery. She grabbed pen and paper—she is very creative—and off we went.

She had a special interest in writing down dates. We left names alone. And as we walked around, we talked about family plots, why the lots are set close together, the different types of tombstones, and so on. We also took special notice of how old the people were when they died. We saw infants, parents, sons, and daughters.

The thirty minute journey sparked yet another topic, namely, Elizabeth my firstborn. Gabby asked questions about her half-sister, but more around her illness, fate, and burial back in South Carolina. Strangely enough for me, this conversation felt like an unusual first time that I had my two daughters together.

Once Gabby wrote down her numbers, we decided it was time to go. I looked back, stretched my arms, and thanked those buried for allowing us to learn. It’s just an honoring thing I do; no religion is involved. Gabby’s first reaction was, “Are you talking to me?” “No mama” (a little Latin affection), I responded. She then replied, “That’s what I thought of doing.” And with those last words we got into the car and left.

Here in the West there is much apprehension about visiting funeral homes and cemeteries, let alone bringing children to these places. And Stephen King and a host of other authors and film producers do not make it any easier for adult minds. But Gabby’s rare beginnings with death have not been interfered with by such bizarre—sometimes funny, sometimes not—imagination.

I don’t work with children at the office; I tell people I have my four and that is more than enough. But for those of you who work with the young, perhaps Gabby’s working dialogue with death might dismantle learned fears that keep not only us but our clients at a distance from similar conversations.

Through Gabby’s wisdom, maybe it isn’t a bad idea to buy a few toys that replicate a cemetery or funeral home for play therapy. And perhaps taking a mother and her child to a cemetery for some education or grief work just might be beneficial.

Guest blog post by Kevin Quiles, M.Div., M.A., LPC practices mindfulness and psychotherapy in Roswell, Georgia. He is the author of Spiritual Care to Elderly and Dying Loved Ones and Conversing with Death: to Build a Better Now and Future. He is also the founder of Conversing with Death Therapy ®. For more information, go to kevinquiles.com.

Kevin has authored 2 online continuing education courses for Pedagogy Education.

The Role of the Hospice Caregiver, this online course reevaluates the basic understanding of caregiving to achieve balance in this altruistic trade and provides the necessary tools to help the caregiver maintain a healthy balance in the field while providing quality service to patients and their family members.
Whether one is moving into the field of hospice for the first time or is well-seasoned as a professional caregiver, he or she has a significant chance of encountering some surprising hindrances that could mentally eradicate the caregiver’s emotional balance.

The Spiritual and Religious Makeup of the Hospice Caregiver, the purpose of this course is to examine how the healthcare professional’s spiritual and religious makeup influences the role he or she plays in the field of hospice. In studying the fabric of knowledge that transcends science, the course neither labels one religion or practice as good or bad, nor does it deny any claims of spiritual experiences or awakenings. The primary objective of this course is to lay credence to the psychological and cultural factors on spiritual and religious development, and to understand its strengths and limitations as it interacts with the prioritizing value hospice takes in serving a religiously diverse community. Questions the study will entertain here are as follows:
  • How do the professional’s absolute beliefs come about in the first place? Here the development of religious or spiritual ideas is explored only from cultural and psychological perspectives.
  • Are there strengths and limitations to any one perceived universal spiritual or religious belief as it works alongside an organizations’ mindset to deliver equal care to all faiths?
  • How can the professional work around an organization’s mission to a religiously or spiritually diverse community without feeling like he or she has compromised convictions?

While the subject of spirituality or religion is often handed down in hospice to the chaplain, every discipline is still at the forefront of the tugs and pulls fueled by one’s set of beliefs. Thus while this course can benefit all the disciplines, including the chaplain, the audience here is primarily the licensed nurse.

To learn more about Kevin’s courses click on the course titles, education may also be purchased for an organization by emailing sales@pedagogy-inc.com or giving us a call at 903-871-2150.  Facility purchases of education always include the use of our Learning Management System that allows you complete control and oversight of education.
Posted: 9/30/2014 11:58:01 AM
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