I am pleased to offer a variety of educational materials, tools and introspection via the new website. This work is personal for me and the offerings come from 34 years of experience helping individuals and their families, providers and the general public get the help they need. I have been privileged to accompany people on their journeys and hope the learning opportunities I have been given will help you in the work you do caring for others and supporting those who are caring for others.
During hospice volunteer training in 1985, I was inspired by seeing a social worker cleverly illustrate, (with the use of a hanging mobile), family dynamics of terminal illness. It was this experience that ultimately led me to train as a social worker and focus my studies on the care of individuals who have serious illness and are dying. My passion for education and advocacy grew and I had the good fortune of being hired in 1989 as the first social worker for a newly developing hospice seeking Medicare certification. With hospice and its philosophy of care being new concepts to both staff and community, education became vital to help people understand the value of hospice services for themselves and their loved ones.
Willow Publications is Born
After years of facilitating conversations with families served by hospice, I recognized the need for education about the emotional and psychological aspects of caring for a loved one and bringing closure to the relationship. I began writing booklets for those family members I served through hospice as well as for my own family who were in the midst of caring for our family member with advanced cancer.
Willow Publications was established in 2000 after the first booklet, The Road Home Caring and Support for Those Affected by Terminal Illness was published. It quickly became apparent that this small 10-page booklet filled an important need. In the first year nearly 15,000 copies were provided to hospices, palliative care centers, hospitals and medical centers, nursing homes, residential care facilities and the general public throughout the United States.
Over time, three additional booklets followed, including Help Me Understand: A Guide for Adults Who Are Helping Children Understand Death, Tips For Caregivers: Practical, time-tested ideas from and for caregivers, and El camino a casa, The Road Home translated into Spanish.
Willow Publications Adds End of Life Education To Its Name
Having served for nearly 11 years as state educator for the Hospice and Palliative Care Organization in Wisconsin and also as project manager for a 3-year community-academic project aimed at increasing the palliative skills of rural physicians, I learned first-hand the educational needs of medical providers, administrators, palliative and hospice practitioners, special community groups and the public in general. End-of-Life Education was added to the business name to reflect the added services of staff development, community education, and a collection of writings through theconsciousmeasure.
My Personal Mission
After over three decades of paying attention to how far we have and have not come in the quest to bring dying out of the closet, it is my personal mission to normalize death as part of Life by main-streaming the hospice care philosophy into society. I have the belief that all people have the capacity to transcend fear, embrace their humanity and minister in whatever way they can to those who are sick and dying.
To move that mission and actualize the goal that people will be armed with information to make decisions about the care they want when needed, I started “Conversations About Care (CAC)” a community initiative aimed at encouraging public discourse about serious illness, end of life issues, and caregiving through educational events and community discussion forums. In 2017 and 2018, Conversations About Care partnered with academic institutions and service organizations in the Central Wisconsin communities of Stevens Point, Waupaca and Wausau, to bring residents an opportunity to learn about and “try on” care scenarios to begin having conversations about care. I want to help replicate this initiative in other parts of the country and offer providers, community groups and organizers a template and toolkit to do just that.
Our Need for Introspection
To create a place for our thoughts about all we experience in caring for others and supporting those who are caring for others, I have created theconsciousmeasure. I invite you to take a look at the entries and if any of it resonates with you, to share with others. Eventually too, it is my hope that I can extend the invitation to anyone seeking to address a topic important to them and post a guest entry.