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Jane Barton

2018 CSA Conference


Jane W. Barton, MTS, MASM, CSA

Cardinal, LLC
Speaker, Writer, Listener



No Mulligans on the 18th Hole - Reflections on My Experience of My Brother's Death

On March 15, 2016, I recalled words I had uttered in classes over the past decade regarding the end of life. "Companioning our loved ones to the end of the road is one of THE hardest things we are called to do in this life - as well as THE most sacred. It's a once in lifetime opportunity because death doesn't offer us a 'do-over.' We're either present at the moment or we're not!" So on that morning as I stood in front of an SCSA class reading a text informing me of the imminent death of my brother, I knew exactly where I needed to be—where I wanted to be. With my brother. There would be no mulligans on Richard's 18th hole. No do-over's. Ultimately, with the support of friends and SCSA, I was with my brother when he died—a moment that changed my life. A moment I am so thankful I didn't miss.

Since my brother's death, I have talked with family and friends about my experience. I have poured my grief and sorrow onto the pages of numerous journals. And I have shared a bit of my story in various presentations and classes. Telling the story is part of my healing process. But it's more than that. I am motivated to tell my story in order to encourage others not to miss the moments in life that are truly meaning-FULL. The moments that are often heart breaking and gut wrenching. The moments that not only teach us about death but more importantly about LIFE. Moments not to be missed.

The focus of my reflections today is not about how my brother died. Instead, I choose to share how we LIVED into that sacred moment and what we learned about LIFE. There were moments of incredible pain, sorrow, and suffering. There were moments of joy, celebration, love, and gratitude. And there were moments of raucous humor as well. We laughed. We cried. We prayed. We sang. We danced. We walked. We talked. We remembered. We cooked. We ate. And we drank. We surrounded my brother with life and love until his final breath. And then, we said goodbye.

Reflecting on those final four days with my brother, I realize those were four of the most challenging AND most important days of my life. Moments not to be missed. My fervent hope is that by sharing my story, you will remember at some point in time that there are no mulligans on the 18th hole. There are no "do-overs" when it comes to dying and death. Know that when called, you can be a courageous companion to those you love. And by so doing, you will experience a once in a lifetime opportunity that will enhance your appreciate of LIFE. A good thing indeed.

Learning Objectives

  1. Recognize how death informs how we choose to live.
  2. Acknowledge that there are some moments in life that are not to be missed.
  3. Believe you are courageous enough to companion your loved ones to the end of the road.

About Jane

Jane W. Barton, author of Caregiving for the GENIUS, is a passionate national speaker, writer, and listener. As the founder of Cardinal, LLC, she provides educational programs, books, videos, podcasts, and blogs to assist people in confronting the daunting challenges posed by aging, caregiving, and the end of life. Jane is well versed in the areas of grief and bereavement, caregiving, hospice and palliative care, change and transition, and spirituality and health. As the Caregiving Ambassador for AARP Colorado (2014-2018), she offers educational programs throughout the state of Colorado.

Previously, Jane served as Director of Education for a hospice and palliative care educational institution in Denver, Colorado. She also served as a chaplain in hospice and palliative care. Jane is a certified Spiritual Director as well as a Certified Senior Advisor. In a former life, she worked as a financial services representative and an exploration petroleum geologist and manager.

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