Kevin Earl Dayhoff Art One-half Banana Stems

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Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Crossing the Creek, A Practical Guide to the Dying Process

“Crossing the Creek” is written by Michael Homes

I received “Crossing the Creek, A Practical Guide to the Dying Process” on the last day, November 13, 2013, of Bereavement Skills Training at Carroll Hospice. 

I recently took a 15-hour class in Bereavement Skills Training at Carroll Hospice, taught by Kathleen A. Bare, M.S. Bereavement Counselor, Carroll Hospice, 292 Stoner Ave., Westminster, MD 21157.

The topics included an introduction to Carroll Hospice and the services and functions hospice can provide when family members, loved-ones, friends and colleagues are “Crossing the Creek.”

The class touched-upon the medical aspects of the dying experience and advice for caregivers. Class segments included ‘normal grief,’ natural grief responses, children and grief. Complicated grief, suicides, communication skills, rituals, support groups and resources.

On the last day of class, a member of the class distributed a photocopy of the publication, “Crossing the Creek, A Practical Guide to the Dying Process,” which the author, Michael Homes, RN, identifies as “A nurse’s perspective on the medical aspects of the dying experience and advice for caregivers.” My copy of “Crossing the Creek” is branded with a ‘print date’ of September 4, 2000.

According to, the publication is no longer available. Furthermore, the publisher, Damone-Rose Publishing is going out of business. A brief search of the internet did not locate a place where the book could be purchased. This information was accessed on November 25, 2013.

That is a shame because it is a valuable and well accepted plain-language and common sense approach to the dying experience and advice to caregivers…

In his introduction to “Crossing the Creek,” Mr. Holmes writes:

“This guide is intended to provide dying people and their caregivers with a general description of what they can expect to encounter. While understanding does not eliminate the impact of experience, it can: certainly reduce some of the consternation and allay that creeping sense of panic•.

“All transitions have similar key elements. Also, every person experiences, a wide variety of transitions during the course of his/her lifetime. In that sense, there is nothing new in dying process. In fact, each of us develops our own, personal style for dealing with transitions. We tend to stick with that style, whatever it might be, when we face the transition we call death.

“If you would like to know how you will handle your own death, look back upon your life and observe how you have handled all your other transitions. Unless you decide to change your approach, that is how you will die.

While all transitions have similar key elements, this guide deals specifically with the transition of dying. Every person does not experience every sign or symptom described herein, or a person may experience a particular sign or symptom in his/her own unique way. There is room for infinite variation in how any given individual may experience the dying process. At the same time, certain general themes are common to all.

“It is well to remember that all transitions entail some disagreeable or uncomfortable aspects. Dying process is no exception. No reasonable person expects that life will contain no discomforts, yet some espouse the notion that somehow, death will. This is not a reasonable expectation. The dying process has its difficult aspects regardless of one's level of enlightenment.

“Modern medicine has demonstrated a remarkable capacity for mitigating or even eliminating many disagreeable aspects of physical death. At the same time, modern medicine cannot relieve people of responsibility for their own lives. We all prepare for our own death by the manner in which we live our lives. Skilled clinicians can be a great help, but we each bear the ultimate burden of responsibility for how we live and how we die…”

For more information on grief, bereavement, death and dying, or coping with death at the holidays and the various programs offered by Carroll Hospice, contact: Kathleen A. Bare, M.S. Bereavement Counselor, Carroll Hospice, 292 Stoner Ave., Westminster, MD 21157, 410-871-7231,; or go to:

Kevin Dayhoff is a chaplain with the Westminster Volunteer Fire Department and the Maryland Troopers Association Lodge # 20.

In addition he currently serves on the executive board of the Carroll Co. branch of the NAACP and the church council of Grace Lutheran Church.

In the past, he has taken a number of classes in various aspects of the chaplaincy, including non-violence training, emergency incident command and response, Red Cross disaster response training, and a Federation of Fire Chaplains’ class in the Essentials of Fire Chaplaincy…
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