A local hospice uses video to record patients’ life stories as a keepsake for families, preserving their life history and providing a chance for family to get answers to questions before the person dies. This video record could also serve as a wonderful addition to a memorial service when funeral planning.
In today’s Albuquerque Journal, on the front of the Health section, there’s a story headlined “Saying Goodbye – Hospice patients narrate stories for family in Life Review program. Unfortunately, the Journal doesn’t make their stories available online unless you are a subscriber, so allow me to summarize the program featured in the article.
Presbyterian Hospice has a Life Review program, where hospice patients are asked to tell their life story. It starts with a list of questions developed by family members and by Lorri Griego, the volunteer coordinator who created the program, which allows patients to share memories with their loved ones on camera. A hospice volunteer then asks the questions and a second volunteer videotapes the patient’s storytelling. The unedited tape is given to the patient, who can do what he or she likes with it.
The life review offers a snapshot of how people change in later years, and how they stay the same. There is research that there are important psychological benefits for a life review, giving people a chance to build their legacy.
Kenneth J. Doka, a professor of gerontology at the College of New Rochelle and senior consultant at the Hospice Foundation of America, explained, “It gives some meaning in life. When you die you want to be able to say, ‘My life counted.’ It really speaks to a very deep spiritual need for both the survivor and the patient.”
I’d like to add that portions of these life review videos can also provide a wonderful addition to a funeral or memorial service for that person. How wonderful it would be to hear the favorite stories we’ve heard from our elders told once more at their final send-off party.
Lee Simoni-Youtz, who interviewed her grandmother for her Life Review, said, “It’s hard to talk about these things. But to give a dying person the opportunity to talk about the things that were meaningful to them and to record them, is such a gift. It’s a gift to the dying person and to their families.”