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MERI Center Blog

April 13, 2020
Events

THURSDAY, April 16, 2020 is “National Healthcare Decisions Day.” The MERI Center has been planning a number of activities for UCSF that now of course, must be postponed. However, the importance of completing Advance Directives for Healthcare has never been more critical. Here and now, in the “time of COVID-19” as we will all remember it well, the necessity of conversations about what we all would want or not want, in terms of medical interventions, is indeed at its peak.  As is the importance of having our wishes in writing for the healthcare system.

Below you will find some basic information and history about Healthcare Decisions day from two of the prominent organizations who have fostered the publicity of this day since its inception.

IF you have not completed your own Advance Directive for Healthcare and would like assistance, please consider the online (or in-person, once that can happen again) “What Matters Most” workshops offered by the MERI Center.

From the Conversation Project:

https://theconversationproject.org/nhdd/

“National Healthcare Decisions Day (NHDD) exists to inspire, educate and empower the public and providers about the importance of advance care planning. NHDD is an initiative to encourage patients to express their wishes regarding healthcare and for providers and facilities to respect those wishes,...

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April 9, 2020

Covia is a non-profit that builds senior living communities as well as offers services to seniors.  They have two programs continuing during the pandemic:

Well Connected and Well Connected Español 

Well Connected and Well Connected Español continue to offer phone- and online-based groups, programs, and activities for free to seniors throughout the United States. We are also available to work with senior communities, senior centers, and other programs to support distance programming for your constituents. To register or for more information, please contact us at 877-797-7299 or [email protected].

Social Call

Social Call, our one-on-one visiting program, is still offering phone-based visits. New participants and volunteers are welcome to join. In addition, we are seeking volunteers to send cards and letters to seniors. If you are searching for a way to help people stay connected during this time of isolation, we invite you to participate! Please contact us at 877-797-7299, [email protected], or visit our volunteer...

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April 8, 2020
Resilience Tips

Judy Long, Chaplain, Weekly Resilience Tip

April 1, 2020
Resilience Tips

We will strive to bring you video resilience tips from Judy Long, Chaplain, recorded from the weekly UCSF symptom Management interdisciplinary team meetings. Here's this week's tip: Self-Compassion

Thank you Judy for sharing your wisdom with us!

March 30, 2020
Personal Reflections

On Friday, I learned that a friend of the family died of COVID-19.  She (with her husband) was a pillar of the community and my mom volunteered in her business.  She always gave my kids cookies when they would visit and would always buy her small staff, mostly volunteers, lunch when they worked. 

While my feelings of sadness remain the same, her death feels different.  She is the first person I knew personally that has died from COVID-19.  Her death has brought the pandemic home, made it tangible, personal.  And I know this is just the beginning… I wish that knowing this made things less terrifying, but it doesn’t.

We’re trying to do everything “right”: social/physical distancing, hand washing, keeping the kids engaged and on track, trying to encourage others to do the same.  I’ve tweeted/retweeted/posted COVID articles and #stayhome ad nauseum as if somehow it would prevent or delay the inevitable.  But sadly the inevitable has arrived.  And I knew that it would, while hoping against all odds that it wouldn’t. 

Her death won’t change my day to day, but it has hammered home a few things:

  1. The importance of taking all the precautions we can to flatten the curve.
  2.  We need to do whatever we can to support & protect our healthcare workers. Their health will be a major factor in how many will people die during the pandemic – and not just from COVID-19.
  3. That we need to find ways to be resilient and sit with grief & loss. Need to make sure those on the frontlines are taking care of themselves mentally, emotionally, & physically. 
  4. We need to have frank discussions with our loved ones about our wishes for care if we are unable to make...
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*This piece is also being published by the UCSF Department of Psychiatry.


Words are not enough, they never are, but particularly in this pandemic of loss.  Still, here are a few thoughts to help us find a way through the terrible pain of grief in the time of COVID-19.

Grief is the pain of loss

Our losses are multiple, nearly overwhelming, and being experienced right now by everyone on this planet.  We all know the ache of being at odds with our own lives.  We all know vulnerability.  We all know loss.  The current pandemic is bringing us loss—and grief, the human response to loss--at scale.  Many losses are of people-- our family, our lovers, our  friends, our neighbors, people across the world we have never known.  But our losses are of other important things too-- school, work, connection, the prom, sports, certainty, predictability, blissful ignorance, weddings, funerals, normalcy.  Some losses are life delayed (for who knows how long), some are life canceled and gone forever.  Each person’s grief is personal, and true, and incomparable to another’s.  There is no ranking of loss, just what it means to each of us to go without, to miss, to be separated, to be disappointed, to feel alone and bereft.

Grief has to be, because we love

Grief is normal.  We grieve the loss of what we care about.  If you are hoping to avoid grief, then you’d have to avoid love.  Noting this connection can help soften the sting of these hard feelings.  In this way, grief is something of value and is worth protecting.  Hence, many cultures and societies have long ritualized the mourning period.  Our funerals must now be...

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March 24, 2020
Resilience Tips

At today's UCSF Symptom Management Service Interdisciplinary Team meeting, Judy Long, Chaplain extraordinare, led us in a short resilience exercise.  We hope to record them in the future, but alas, did not record today's session.  

Judy started with a grounding exercise, asking us to breathe in and out. Then she prompted us to ask ourselves:

Why:  Why am I here? Why am I doing this work? Why do I care (about my work, my family, etc.)?  

What: What is going on in my body right now? Do I have a headache, stomachache? Notice in your heart anything that dominates. What emotions are on the surface?

Next, think about the person you are meeting with next. What are the stories I have about this person? What are my preconceptions? What is the narrative I have about this person.  Recognize that they are preconceptions and narratives.

Now imagine what they may be going through, what they may be feeling.  Are they in pain? Nauseous? Are they scared? Angry? Worried?

What narratives may they have about you?  Be mindful of how all of this affects your interaction.

Bonus tip:

Think about someone you’d like to connect with and how you could connect with them.  Phone, text, video.  

 

March 18, 2020
Resilience Tips

Judy Long, Chaplin, compiled a list of online resources to cope with stressful times.  This list includes minfulness & meditation apps, articles, and the like. You can download it here.  We hope that you all find it helpful to cope during this time.

Much love and blessings to all.

~The MERI Center

March 18, 2020

Just over a week into working from home due to the coronavirus, 4th day of the kids staying home from school, and I did not leave the house once yesterday.  Yesterday night was difficult as we mourn not only the loss of our spring break vacation plans but the loss of the back-up plan to cohabitate with our best friends in another state.  The internal struggle to stay hopeful while things seem to change daily.  The external struggle of getting the seniors in my life to stay home and keeping the kids sane.  I broke down in the shower this morning letting the stream of water wash away my tears of frustration, fear, & despair.   And this is only the beginning.  Now more than ever, we need to rely on and strengthen our resilience.  The MERI Center will continue to tweet out resilience tips and post poems and self-care links in our blog.  

Here's some recent tweets/retweets & Blog posts that I hope you'll find inspiring and brighten your day:

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March 17, 2020
Resilience Tips

I am passing along a meditation suggested by my personal teacher that has been really grounding and uplifting for me over the past few days. I want to share it in case it is of assistance to any of you as well: 

  1. Find a comfortable seated position (or a comfortable position lying down).
  2. Imagine a gentle energetic cord grounding and connecting you to the center of the Earth. Once you do, find a similar energetic cord connecting you to the stars. Find a point of balance in between the two. 
  3. Tune into yourself to find a color (or combination of colors) that represents healing, immunity, and health to you. The first color that comes to your mind is perfect. It may also change from day to day, and that is fine. 
  4. Once you have your healing color in mind, allow that color to coat the outside of your Aura, or the energy field that surrounds your body. Then allow it to completely permeate the inside of your Aura or energy field as well, until you feel surrounded and supported by it. You can also imagine the healing color permeating every cell of your body.
  5. Once you feel grounded and comfortable with the above step, create a tiny rose in your mind's eye in the same healing color. This represents your healing gift to others. Once you see the tiny healing rose in your mind's eye, imagine sending it out energetically to everyone in the universe so that they can find their intention to heal/optimize health as well. 

I have been doing this meditation every day and it is definitely helping...

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