Ginny's Life Meaning
After a couple of days, Ginny called Mary and said they would like to employ her services. When could she start?
Mary said she would start tomorrow visiting Ginny twice a week for two hours each visit for the first few weeks and then more often as Ginny’s condition began to deteriorate.
During her first visit Mary asked Ginny to tell her about her life:
What kinds of things did she like to do?
What were some of the formative experiences in her life?
What were her relationships like?
How did she relate to nature?
What role did spirituality play in her life?
Who had a big impact on her life and why?
What books or movies dramatically affected her life and why?
What were some of the most important decisions she made?
As she looks back over her life, what stands out as extremely important?
These questions were designed to help Ginny review her life and identify important themes and understand how important patterns or events impacted her life.
The theme that ran through Ginny’s life from the time she was a young girl up until her diagnosis with stomach Cancer was involvement in Girl Scouts. Ginny participated in Girl Scouts beginning in Middle School and continued her involvement as a troop leader as a young adult.
Mary asked Ginny what she thought about using her work with the Girl Scouts as a “legacy project.” A legacy project is a lasting memento summarizing one's life. Legacy projects are individually tailored to help patients review the ups and downs, joys and sorrows of their lives.
Since Girl Scouts had been such a huge part of her life, Mary suggested creating a time line scroll with highlights of her Girl Scout experience marked on the time line with badges, pictures, and hand written reflections.
Bob and Michael were excited about helping Ginny create the time-line scroll. Over the next few weeks the three of them worked on the project. It gave them the opportunity to talk about many highlights from Ginny’s life and provided an interesting and engrossing activity to look forward to. Creating the scroll gave Bob and Michael many good final memories of being with Ginny.
Days that Ginny was too tired to be hands-on with the project, Bob and Michael worked under Ginny’s direction as she sat in her recliner. When the time-line scroll was complete Ginny asked that it be laid across her body like a Girl Scout sash when she dies.
Each time Mary visited Ginny; Mary led her in guided imagery. Guided imagery uses directed thoughts and images to bring peace and ease suffering. Mary asked Ginny to visualize a place that she loved to visit, a place that was peaceful and relaxing. Mary encouraged Ginny to describe her “happy place” in detail asking her to engage her five senses.
Ginny remembered a particular trip to the ocean with her Girl Scout troop. They had arrived just as the sun was rising. Ginny described the sound of the waves, the smell of the salt air, the cool water on her bare feet, the gray light of dawn giving way to the yellow light of the sun, the oohs and ahs of the girls as they watched the changing colors of the sky.
Mary took notes to capture the details of what Ginny was describing. Then, imagining the scene in her own mind, Mary described the scene back to Ginny inviting her to return to that wonderful day on the seashore with her troop.
As Mary talked, Ginny found herself relaxing. Her pain decreased. She felt connected to nature once again. Long-buried feelings of gratitude surfaced as Ginny remembered all the joy her work as a Girl Scout leader had brought her.
In our next post we’ll look at how Mary prepared Ginny for her actual experience of dying.