"We cried when we first saw our hand portrait.

We held hands and hugged a lot until he died a month later. The photograph sits in my living room where I can see it everyday. I show that photograph to everyone, it warms my heart to do so. It is the one thing that I cherish most; it keeps Ray here. You do a very special service Mary. I will cherish your gift for the rest of my life."

Sheila

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Photographs by Mary Landberg

Hospice Portraits Blog

Lucy Henry

Follow Your Heart and Passions

At sixty-eight, Lucy left Bend, Oregon, and opened an antique furniture shop near the ocean in Brookings, Oregon. It had been a year since her husband died. The ocean and antiquing were her passions, not his. She said he was a grumpy guy and didn’t understand why she would want to live in a foggy town by the ocean, in …

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What To Say

What do I say to the dying?

In a recent television interview I was asked, “What do I say to the dying?” I suggest that we can simply ask questions to gain a better understanding of who they are, what they are passionate about, and what matters most to them. I wouldn’t worry about saying the “right thing.” Dying people want to be treated normally. Share with …

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Jack

What’s Best

Jack lived in a crack house but he didn’t know it. He was tucked away in the back of an old Victorian that was converted into apartments fifteen years ago. His monthly Medicare disbursement and VA benefits afforded him rent, two TV dinners per day, and a monthly trip (via his treasured electric wheelchair) to the Dollar Store for Hershey …

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Just Ask

Just Ask

Candace and I thought her husband Paul was in a deep coma like sleep as we started talking about how their lives evolved into a seventy year marriage. Candace casually mentioned Paul was a rifle team leader in the bloody WWII battle on the island of Iwo Jima. Paul suddenly woke from a twenty-eight hour sleep. He somehow found the …

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Leo

Leo the Therapy Dog

Tom’s face tightened as he tried to fight the quiver that was gaining momentum in his chin and lips. He was trying to appear stronger than he was, for his son. Lung cancer took his fifty-eight year old wife later that day. In the last hour of her life, Tom said, “I can hold it together for her and our …

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Happy

Postponing Happiness

Amanda is a spindly little eighty-eight year old gal dying from COPD. Between quick of breath she puffed with finality, “I will be happy when I’m dead.” Her whole life she has been postponing happiness until something happened. She confessed she was never really happy, she was always waiting to be happy or “doing something” before she could be happy. …

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Your Future

What are you waiting for?

Your future does not exist anymore. You have been told you have a rare cancer that would most likely take your life in the next six months. What urgent need would have to be met before you die? What current plan would you drop like a hot potato because you don’t have time to follow through? What wild and precious …

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Jared

Jared

Jared was a fifty-one year old man dying from AIDS. He was living with his eighty-four year old girlfriend Lois and her two chiwawahs in a camper in rural southern Oregon. Jared’s needs were greater than the strength and endurance that Lois pretended to have. Jared had to move out, he needed more care. Lois called 911 and an ambulance chauffeured …

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Sylvia

Love at First Sight

Sylvia’s right hand immediately went over her heart and the other over her mouth. She let out a loud gasp of recognition at the photograph of a handsome young man in uniform she saw hanging over the fireplace at her new girlfriend’s house. At sixteen, Sylvia breathlessly squeaked out the words, “That’s my husband!” Her new friend Barbara laughed and …

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Emilane

Body Image

Emilane hadn’t eaten much all day. I offered her a bite of the chocolate ice cream that was in her freezer. With great effort, Emilane pulled herself up in bed, took the oxygen tubing out of her nose and said, “No thank you, I feel best at 112 pounds.” She straightened her blankets and muttered with confidence, “I have good …

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