Aging in Place is Preferred by Nearly 80% of Adults Aged 50+

Guest post by Carolina Jimenez.

Aging in place is the process of staying in your own home as you grow older instead of moving to an outside facility. To properly age in place, you should create a budget, discuss options with your family, connect with home health services and identify necessary home modification projects. 

Nearly 80 percent of adults ages 50 and older want to remain in their current homes as they age, according to American Association of Retired People (AARP). Aging in place is often more affordable than transitioning to institutionalized care and allows someone to retain independence in a comfortable, familiar setting. However, aging in place isn’t right for everyone. It requires careful planning, research and coordination. 

What Is Aging in Place? 

Aging in place occurs when someone makes a conscious decision to grow older in their current residence instead of moving to an assisted living or long-term care facility. Aging in place works best for people who create a plan, modify their home and establish a supportive network of family and home care services. Affordable, accessible and suitable housing options also make it easier for older adults to age in place and remain in their community for years to come. 

The choice to either age in place or transition to assisted care is a complex and personal decision influenced by emotional, physical and financial factors. 

Is Aging in Place Right for You? 

Staying in a familiar setting is a priority for many seniors. But aging in place isn’t always as easy as it sounds. Maintaining independence can become increasingly difficult as age increases and health declines. 

Everyone’s situation is different. It’s important to evaluate and be realistic about your own circumstances. 

For more information on Aging in Place and the RetireGuide website> www.retireguide.com 

Book News: Updates and a New Book

I have been working on my books and I have two updates and one new book to tell you about.

Now in hardcover: “Flourish or Fade”

My newest book, “Flourish or Fade: A guide to total well-being for women at midlife and beyond” (2021) is now available in hardcover! This is the first book that I have been able to make into a hardcover version. Amazon had approached me to see if I would be interested in trying out this new feature they were offering, so I took them up on it. Let me know if you decided to get a copy of it in hardcover. I would love to know what you think.

Paperback updated for 2021: “Caring for a Husband with Dementia”

I have updated the paperback version of “Caring for a Husband with Dementia” for 2021. I have taken out some links that no longer worked. Many of the links were from the “Alzheimer’s Reading Room” which has been removed off the internet. I have also added a reference to a book by Marie Marley and Daniel C. Potts which has a lot of the information that was in the links which have been removed. Their book is called, “Finding Joy in Alzheimer’s: New Hope for Caregivers” (2015).

Temporary cover: “Caring for Someone with Cognitive Decline”

I have completely revised, updated, and expanded my book on dementia caregiving to create a new book, “Caring for Someone with Cognitive Decline: Information, tips, and support for caregivers” (2021). It’s reasonably priced at $12.95 USD (eBook is $3.95 USD). This book was a project I had been wanting to do for a long time. I had been told the original book, “Caring for a Husband with Dementia” was suitable for all caregivers. After working with many people with dementia and their families, I felt it was time to complete this book project. The book is now available on Amazon, however, the cover is only temporary. I am currently in the process of seeking a new book cover design, so if you have any ideas, please let me know!

Angela G. Gentile, MSW, RSW

Retirement News – Reflecting on My Next Steps

Angela G. Gentile

Retirement is not the end of the road; it’s the beginning of the open highway.

On the heels of the launch of my sixth book, “Flourish or Fade,” and after 21 years of working full-time, I have made the decision to retire. I have been working in the healthcare field for most of my social work career, with positions in long-term care, home care, and most recently geriatric mental health.

Retirement at this stage in my life means retiring from a job that no longer suits me. It’s been eight months since I started thinking about leaving my current position of 11 years. Perhaps it was the Covid-19 pandemic that was the icing on the cake. I had burned out while working in Home Care, so I didn’t want it to happen again. I wasn’t able to find a more suitable position so I decided to retire. My last day with my current full-time job will be on Monday, June 7, 2021. 15 more working days. The countdown is on!

I have heard it said in order to not be disappointed in retirement, an attitude of retiring TO something, versus retiring FROM something can help with the transition. With that said, I am retiring to a lifestyle where I can decide if I want to work, how much I want to work, and what kind of work I want to do. I am blessed with a great pension, some savings, and a supportive partner who helps makes this possible.

I am looking forward to the next chapter in my life. To kick off my retirement I plan to slow down, take stock, and reflect on what I want and need. I am not sure what my next steps will be – but I am keeping all my options open.

Angela G. Gentile

What is a Bloomer?

A Bloomer is a woman who…

♥ has come to full maturity

♥ embraces her age (age is just a number)

♥ looks after herself

♥ loves herself

♥ is self-compassionate

♥ encourages and supports other women

♥ accepts herself

♥ is true to herself

♥ strives to be her best

♥ makes the rest of her life the best of her life

♥ is resilient — bounces back

♥ nurtures herself

♥ can say no — sets limits

A Bloomer lifestyle is one which is

♦ balanced — work, play, rest/body, mind, soul

♦ active

♦ nutritionally sound

♦ fun — laugh, love, live, dance

To Bloom is to strive towards greatness. To Bloom is to flourish.

Angela G. Gentile, MSW, RSW (Specialization in Aging)

Author of Flourish or Fade: A guide to total well-being for women at midlife and beyond

Cycling to Work for 30 Years

27 Apr 2021

My husband, Agapito, has been cycling to work for the past 30 years. He remembers back in 1991 when he made the decision to ride his bike to work. We were married in 1990, and that winter we had moved into our first house. He had started taking the bus to work, but he found he didn’t like the public transit system. So, he started riding his bike. He never looked back.

Spring 1992. No helmet!
30 Nov 2020

He rides in all kinds of weather. Winnipeg winters can be brutally cold.

26 Jan 2021

His face covering gets all frosty in the cold weather. The winters are hard on bikes and he figures he went through about 7-8 so far. He has always bought used bikes.

04 Dec 2014 – “Tip of the day: Lots of free, all-day parking all over the city, even downtown.” 
04 Sep 2015 – “Got a bit of rain on the commute home. Managed to keep all my valuables dry under the garbage bag.”

He rides rain or shine!

I wonder how long he will continue to ride his bike?

27 Dec 2021

Congratulations on 30 years of cycling, Agapito! I wish you many more years of riding your bike.

Angela G. Gentile

Flourish or Fade: A guide to total well-being for women at midlife and beyond – Book Now Available

Angela Gentile’s newest book is now available for purchase from Amazon.

A perfect Mother’s Day gift for Mom (Sunday, May 9, 2021).

>>>Buy the Paperback on Amazon ($16.99 USD) 

>>>Buy the ebook (Kindle) on Amazon ($5.99 USD)

Join us at the Zoom Book Launch during National Women’s Health Week,

on Tuesday May 11, 2021 at 8:00 pm CST.

A recording on YouTube will be available if you are unable to attend the live event.

WIN PRIZES!

TAKE CHARGE OF THE WAY YOU AGE

Flourish or Fade: A guide to total well-being for women at midlife and beyond provides you with the information and tools needed to improve life satisfaction. The Flower of Wellness Method will help you devise a plan to balance your body, mind, and soul. 

You will learn how to enhance your overall well-being by exploring the ten dimensions of wellness: 

Physical, Emotional, Brain, Social, Sexual, Spiritual, Environmental, Recreational, Financial, and Occupational.

This anti-ageist, realistic, and optimistic approach to life in the middle years and beyond will provide you with inspiration and tips that will have you feeling confident, happy, and satisfied with whatever may come your way. 

The Flower of Wellness Method is a fresh and contemporary approach to finding balance.

Do you want to flourish or fade in the later years? It’s your choice. 

Angela G. Gentile, M.S.W., R.S.W., is a registered clinical social worker/specialist in aging with more than 25 years of experience working with older adults and their families. She was born and raised in Ontario and now lives in Winnipeg, Manitoba.

www.AngelaGGentile.com

“Flourish or Fade” Book Launch Giveaways and Contest Details

Celebrate National Women’s Health Week with us! On May 11, 2021, at 8:00 pm CST, Angela G. Gentile will be hosting a Zoom book launch for her newest book, “Flourish or Fade.” Register on Eventbrite to attend. There are a number of awesome books, services, and products that have been donated by some amazing women to help make this book event special. Please see the list below and enter to win! (see Contest Details below).

Flourish or Fade

1. Angela G. Gentile: “Flourish or Fade: A guide to total well-being for women at midlife and beyond” (paperback, $21.00 CAD value). Now available!

BrainShape Accountability Calls

2. Dr. Andrea Wilkinson: BrainShape Accountability Calls ($300.00 CAD value)

“Free Phase II Accountability Calls with Dr. Andrea of BrainShape” ($300 CAD value)

Accountability Appointments take place via TWO 60-minute video calls. 

CALL 1: Discuss your concerns and struggles + build a plan to help you address them (e.g., sleeping difficulties, chronically stressed, low energy, lacking mental focus, etc.) Whatever the problem, let’s talk about it & build a plan you can implement right away. 

CALL 2: Accountability Appointment to check-in on the goals you set out in Call 1.

The winner of the BrainShape Services prize will book their INITIAL CALL by visiting www.BrainShape.ca/call and book a time in Dr. Andrea’s calendar. This is a free offering of the supportive elements provided inside the Brain Vitality Blueprint, and helps people take the first step towards improving their health and well-being. 

How I Made a Huge Mess of My Life

3. Billie Best: “How I Made a Huge Mess of My Life” (paperback, $12.99 USD value)

https://billiebest.com/

The World Came to Us

4. Molly Duncan Campbell: “The World Came to Us” (paperback, $12.99 USD value)

http://mollydcampbell.com/

The Playground of Possibilities Card Deck

5. Kay Ross: “The Playground of Possibilities” (card deck, $20.00 USD value)

This card deck is a self-help, personal-development tool with 52 questions for you to ask yourself. Every question starts with “What would be possible for me if I…?”, to prompt you to let go of your old, limiting thoughts, beliefs and stories about yourself and the world, choose more useful ones, take inspired action, and improvise more resourceful, joyful ways of being. Kay was born in Scotland, grew up in Australia, and has lived in Hong Kong for 27 years. She’s passionate about personal development and healing, and is also an improv performer. The deck costs $20 USD plus postage from Hong Kong (the full amount depends on the number of decks ordered and the destination).  

https://playgroundofpossibilities.com/card-deck/

Seize the Moment!

6. Camille Goscicki, of Vitalaging4women, “Seize the Moment! A Guide to Living in the Present” (ebook, $4.99 USD value)

Do you live with regrets from the past, and fear the unknowns of the future?

It’s time to let go of fears and regrets and live for today. Seize the Moment! is your mini-guide to grab the present moment and live for today. It includes three bonus worksheets that will help you become more mindful. (Everyday mindfulness tips, practicing mindfulness, and becoming present for peace of mind.) Note: eReader not included.

https://www.vitalaging4women.com

The Unexpected Journey of Caring

7. Donna Thomson: The Unexpected Journey of Caring (hardcover book, $39.00 CAD value).

“The Unexpected Journey of Caring: The Transformation From Loved One to Caregiver” by Donna Thomson and Zachary White, PhD with a foreword by Judy Woodruff (Rowman & Littlefield, 2019) Available at all online booksellers Hardcover – $39.00 CAD)

With a foreword by Judy Woodruff, The Unexpected Journey of Caring is a practical guide to finding personal meaning in the 21st century care experience.

Personal transformation is usually an experience we actively seek out—not one that hunts us down. Becoming a caregiver is one transformation that comes at us, requiring us to rethink everything we once knew. Everything changes—responsibilities, beliefs, hopes, expectations, and relationships. Caregiving is not just a role reserved for “saints”—eventually, everyone is drafted into the caregiver role. It’s not a role people medically train for; it’s a new type of relationship initiated by a loved one’s need for care. And it’s a role that cannot be quarantined to home because it infuses all aspects of our lives.

Caregivers today find themselves in need of a crash course in new and unfamiliar skills. They must not only care for a loved one, but also access hidden community resources, collaborate with medical professionals, craft new narratives consistent with the changing nature of their care role, coordinate care with family, seek information and peer support using a variety of digital platforms, and negotiate social support—all while attempting to manage conflicts between work, life, and relationship roles. The moments that mark us in the transition from loved one to caregiver matter because if we don’t make sense of how we are being transformed, we risk undervaluing our care experiences, denying our evolving beliefs, becoming trapped by other’s misunderstandings, and feeling underappreciated, burned out, and overwhelmed.

Informed by original caregiver research and proven advocacy strategies, this book speaks to caregiving as it unfolds, in all of its confusion, chaos, and messiness. Readers won’t find well-intentioned clichés or care stereotypes in this book. There are no promises to help caregivers return to a life they knew before caregiving. No, this book greets caregivers where they are in their journey—new or chronic—not where others expect (or want) them to be.

“Nobody grows up planning to be a caregiver, but many of us will become one and sometimes when we least expect it. Thomson and White bring powerful insights to help understand what it means to be a caregiver and how to truly support those of us who will travel this unexpected journey.” – Samir K. Sinha, director of geriatrics, Sinai Health System and University Health Network, Toronto; health policy research director, National Institute on Ageing

www.donnathomson.com 

Keeping it Together

8. Eleanor Silverberg: “Keeping it Together: How to Cope as a Family Caregiver without Losing Your Sanity” (paperback, $20.00 CAD value)

https://www.eleanorsilverberg.com/kit-book

I Could Be Wrong

9. Billie Best: I Could Be Wrong (paperback, $7.99 USD value)

https://billiebest.com/

Contest Details:

  • Contest open to adults aged 18+, worldwide. No purchase necessary.
  • Identify which prize(s) you would like to win. Submit the item name/number, your name and email address to Angela at caretoage@gmail.com. (Your name and email address will not be given out to anyone else, unless it is required in order for you to obtain your prize(s)).
  • One entry per person, per item.
  • Entries accepted from Wednesday April 21, 2021 at 5:00 pm CST until Saturday May 15, 2021 at 12:00 noon CST.
  • Winners will be drawn on or before Sunday May 16, 2021 at 12:00 noon CST.
  • Qualified winners will be notified by email and your mailing address will be required so we can ship you your prize.
  • Every attempt will be made to get your prize to you, however, in the unfortunate event there are restrictions in your country, you will be ineligible. In that case, another draw will be made to seek a suitable winner.

Good luck!

Angela G. Gentile, MSW, RSW

www.angelaggentile.com

Stop the Spray Canada – An Interview with Ken Wilson, Founder

Ken Wilson, Founder of Stop the Spray Canada Facebook Group. Trapper/Conservationist from Ontario.

By Angela Gentile

April 1, 2021

Angela: I am Angela Gentile, I am interviewing my dad Ken Wilson who is passionate about the forests of Canada, especially in Ontario. He told me about this herbicide spray that contains the active ingredient glyphosate that they are spraying on the forest that is killing a lot of the plants and vegetation. Glyphosate is found in herbicides such as Roundup, VisionMax, and others. There are other herbicides used in the forest such as WeedMaster (which contains 2,4-D and Dicamba). Ken has noticed a decline in wildlife because there are no plants and berries for them to eat in sprayed areas. There are all kinds of problems going on. I had some questions for my dad and decided to interview him. I hope that by him sharing his experiences might help us understand what is going on and what we can do to help. So, start by telling me a little bit about yourself, where you were born, and where you live now. 

Ken: I was born and raised in the Rainy River District in the town of Fort Frances, Ontario. I spent most of my 76 years in Fort Frances. I was in Toronto for a period of time, when I did my journeyman electrician and I came back here to Fort Frances in 1978. We used to come back hunting. Every fall we would spend a week hunting deer and moose up here and then go back to Toronto. Now this is my home for sure. I am not going back to Toronto, for a while, that’s for sure. Anyway, this glyphosate-based herbicide we are talking about, is a deadly thing in our forest up here. 

Angela: How long have you been enjoying the forest? What do you do in the forest?

Ken: Well, I am a seasoned trapper. I’ve been trapping for approximately 65 years of my 76 years. It’s very sickening when you see the broadleaf plants are being destroyed by this glyphosate. The moose, the deer, everything, they disappear when there are no broadleaf plants for them. The animals can’t survive without these food sources. And we all know that, the Ministry of Natural Resources and the logging companies have been spraying for the last 40 years up here. When it originally started, it wasn’t really noticeable. There weren’t many cuts affected. But when you see a small percentage of the forest sprayed yearly, it adds up. There’s hardly anything left for the animals to eat. They can’t live on conifers. They have to have deciduous trees. Deciduous trees have the berries, leaves and browse (tips of deciduous trees). The blueberries and all the broadleaf plants are disappearing when they spray–and they don’t come back. I was told by a forester one time that they come back. Well, they do come back, but, they are stunted and they are unhealthy shrubs. They just can’t win the battle over glyphosate, or whatever name they call it. 

Angela: So, you said you are a trapper, you’ve been trapping for many years. What other kinds of things do you do in the forest? 

Ken: Well, we fish just about every week. I could live on fish – or whatever wildlife I trap. I try to eat most of the animals we trap (that are edible). I could pretty well live in the bush. Except I like the milk! I need milk for my coffee. So, I have to go to town every couple weeks.

Angela: And what about hunting? 

Ken: Well, we always try to harvest a deer and make sausage or pepperettes. My wife usually gets a moose – if I don’t, my wife will. They are getting few and far between. At one time we could count 6 or 7 moose in one cut (recently harvested area). And now you can’t even count 2 moose in a whole season anywhere out there, in this 9A area, which is north of the Rainy River District, it’s in the Kenora District. 

Angela: So do you believe, what you just said about there is less moose, do you believe that’s because of the spray?

Ken: Well, the spraying has cut down the plants so much that when the moose do find a patch to browse, two or three of them will get in there and then the wolves would join them and take one or two of the little ones. They will also take the adults. The deer are non-existent right now up there. They had a couple bad winters and springs and they are not native to the boreal forest in that area. They just can’t survive when we get a bad winter of 100 inches of snow. They just don’t make it. So, now it is a moose area. And there are less of them. 

Angela: So, you mentioned you noticed the spraying started 40 years ago, so when you think about what you saw when you were younger, how does it look different now? Why are they spraying and what’s going on?

Ken: The conifer is a preferred tree by the large forestry corporations and apparently the Ministry is gung-ho for letting them grow conifer plantations (which are not ecosystems). But, the deciduous trees are the ones that feed the people and feed the animals in the bush. None of the cuts that are sprayed come back with lush deciduous trees. The conifer takes over after they spray it, and all the seed trees and berry bushes on the ground get shaded out by conifers that were planted and grow in the sprayed area. There are very few berry trees left. The bears will feed in the areas where there are lush blueberries. I have seen the spray come on August 20th, when the bears were bulking up on blueberries. That is their main diet. The bears ate the berries that had been sprayed. The berry plants were wilting, and the bears continued to eat the blueberries. It was sad to see them eating those poisoned berries. The glyphosate-covered berries must be doing them some harm. There are places in California that have proven that glyphosate does cause cancer. So, what does it do to the animals?

They have signs posted that say, “Do not eat the berries for one year” after they are sprayed. But the animals can’t read those signs. And it’s sad, it’s just so sad that the animals have to be exposed to that.

Ken Wilson, Trapper/Conservationist

It’s a real lush area until they spray it. The bears are in there eating, they spray it, and they continue to eat it for probably about one month, until the leaves are all down. I am sure it’s harmful. The sprayed berries and vegetation has got to be harmful to all the wildlife that is sprayed. 

Angela: How does the spray affect the water?

Ken: I know on our trapline, we are right down to maybe a dozen otter on the entire 150 square miles that we trap. And I am sure the glyphosate is getting into the water, and doing something to the otter’s main diet of clams and crayfish. Otters catch them readily – and I am sure that’s what’s causing them to be sick. I haven’t caught a healthy otter in two years. It’s getting worse every year, and this year I only saw two otters. So, I don’t know what’s going to happen with the otter. There has to be something getting into the water. The only thing different is they are putting glyphosate into the land. It binds to the soil and if it rains soon after, the runoff from the plantation can cause glyphosate to get into the water. They say it doesn’t get there, that it just evaporates. Well, I don’t believe that. It gets into the water system. I am told there are studies that prove it.

Angela: So, what do you want your fellow Canadians to about this? Because I just learned about this a month and a half ago when you showed me that notice of spraying glyphosate on the forest. I couldn’t believe it, and you showed me proof. What do you want people to know about this?

Ken: Well, glyphosate is outlawed for use on lawns. It’s outlawed in Ontario to use Roundup on your lawn to kill the weeds. And that’s what the Ministry and the forestry companies are doing to the forest. They are spraying the bush with these glyphosate mixtures and they are killing all the good “weeds” that would grow into “pests” if they weren’t killed. The glyphosate mixtures they use in the forest have different additives to make the glyphosate stick longer to the foliage. What is considered the major food source for all the animals are considered weeds or pests to the logging companies. It’s not right. It’s not something to be killed or controlled. It’s food for the critters. 

#stopthespraycanada

Angela: What would you want our government to know? Or what would you want the government to do about this? Because it’s Health Canada that says glyphosate is safe for you.

Ken: Well, that was about six years ago when Health Canada claimed it was safe for humans, based on industry studies they have reviewed. But I don’t think they’ve done any studies to prove that it’s okay on animals. The Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry thinks it’s okay because Health Canada has approved it. And I am sure they have never done studies on animals in the forest. I’d like the government to do lots of studies on the animals. We have 13 species that we trap on our trapping ground. All of them depend on a mouse at the beginning. The food chain starts with the mice, then the squirrels eat the mice, the squirrels get eaten by the marten, the marten get eaten by the fisher, and on it goes all the way up the chain. If the mice don’t have the seeds such as pin cherries, chokecherries, blueberries (all of those plants are killed when they spray), there will be no small rodents. And the birds, all the birds that migrate, need seed-bearing trees, berries, all kinds of seeds that deciduous trees have. There is not enough plant life left to sustain a healthy bird population. I believe this is why the bird populations are on the decline. 

Angela: Would you be satisfied if the government said we are going to do studies? Would that be enough? Or do you want something else to be done?

Ken: I think they have to stop the spray by putting a ban on glyphosate, any of the herbicides or pesticides that are lethal to the broadleaf plants. They should stop the use of harmful pesticides until they do studies on the wildlife. Both the health of the animals and the harm to the ecosystem. When I started on the trapline in 2002, we’d take 60 marten in a year. That wasn’t hurting the population. The next year we took 40. The following year we took 30. I only took two last year. There are hardly any martens around. There are no mice. They are not coming back. The food chain starts with mice and small birds. Partridge (or ruffled grouse) are very good main source of food in the fall. They need birch trees to survive in the winter. They eat birch buds all winter. That’s what they live on. The birch trees are almost nonexistent, except along the roadways where they don’t spray.

Angela: I know there are different parts of Canada that has been fighting this fight for years – decades actually. I know there is a lawyer, Joel Theriault, in Ontario who has been working on this for 20 years. This is an issue affecting most of our Canadian forests and people don’t know about it! You are the founder of the Facebook group, “Stop the Spray Canada” and I have been helping you build this momentum for this campaign to get people educated and aware that this is going on in our forests. I want people to know about it. I thank you for bringing this shocking truth to our attention and making it a national issue. I know BC has been fighting. New Brunswick and Nova Scotia are desperately fighting to keep what they have left of their Acadian forest. There are so many Canadians that don’t even know about this tragedy, and it’s huge what’s going on. So, again, I want to thank you for bringing this to our attention. 

Stop the Spray Canada Facebook Group was founded on February 16, 2021, by Ken Wilson, and the group is currently administered by his daughter Angela Gentile

Angela: You and your supporters have designed a logo for the Stop the Spray Canada campaign and have made some T-shirts. A portion of the sales of the T-shirt will go towards our campaign for education and awareness. There are a few of these special edition T-shirts left, in limited quantities. If anyone wants to get involved, we encourage people to visit Stop the Spray Canada Facebook page, Facebook members-only group and webpage. There are a few people who are working with us on this. They are amazing people, who are all passionate about saving our forests. I hope that this momentum gets building and we can do some things to help save our forests for the future generations. Are there any parting words you’d like to share?

Ken: I’d like to get all the band councils around this area on board with this. I want to talk to the MPP for this area, too. I need to speak to him personally. I need to communicate with both the provincial and federal leaders. That’s where I have to start. They have to start pulling up their socks and looking after our forests rather than let them being run by the forestry companies. 

Angela: Yes! The First Nations communities are also onboard. I know that they have been willing to provide letters of support in this cause. We have a number of them posted in our Facebook group. They are the keepers of our forests in most parts of Canada. They are who look after things for us who are in the smaller rural communities and larger cities. If we can get everyone on board, even cottagers, people who like to hike through the forest. There are so many users of the forest that can get involved. Thank you very much for taking this time to educate us and share your experiences. We also appreciate the sharing of that letter you wrote to some of your government officials in March 2020 advocating for the ban of glyphosate. It’s travelling around, people are reading it. 

Ken: I sent that letter to the Ministry of the Environment right downtown Toronto, but I guess I should have sent it to the Federal government, too, to the Prime Minister’s office – The Minister of Natural Resources and Forestry. 

Angela: Yes, there is still time. Everybody can write letters, everyone can ask to meet with their government officials. We are going to get this done! So, thank you again for your time!

Join the Stop the Spray Canada Facebook Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/stopthespraycanada

Follow the Stop the Spray Canada Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/stopthespraycanada

Check out the Stop the Spray Canada webpage: http://nlmotel.com/stop-the-spray-canada/

The Harsh Reality of a COVID-Style Livestreamed Funeral

(Angel image courtesy of Pixabay)

On a cold January morning in 2021, I watched a live, one-hour, online Catholic funeral of a dear friend of the family. This was a unique one, as it was the first livestreamed funeral I have ever attended. Also, it was held during the COVID-19 pandemic. It was held in a very beautiful church in Winnipeg, Manitoba. 

My first thought after it ended was, “Well, that was different.” And the next was, “I watched it in my pajamas.” 

I then processed my feelings and felt I should write about it. For anyone else who has attended a livestream event like this, perhaps you can relate. 

The funeral was shown on YouTube as a live feed. Anyone with the link was able to get access to it. My daughter Simone and I watched it on our big screen Panasonic television from our living room as it air played from my iPhone using the YouTube app. My husband went to his father’s place to watch it there with him. We couldn’t all be together due to COVID restrictions. 

Nine family members were in attendance (I suspect there could have been ten), and it looks like it was the nine most important people in the woman’s life: her husband (now a widower), three children, three grandchildren, and two in-laws. 

The priest officiated. Everyone was wearing masks. Masks were taken off either to speak or take communion.

The deceased’s daughter gave a beautiful eulogy and gave us a history of her mom and her time in Italy and Canada. She also told us how hard it was to see her mom get sick during COVID. She wishes she had kissed her mom one last time on Jan. 13, but she wasn’t able to due to physically distanced restrictions. Facetiming was the best way for the family to communicate with her. Thank God there was a family session the day before she passed, when she was still conscious.

Watching a funeral from home is different, as you can verbalize things you normally wouldn’t say while attending a funeral. It’s an odd feeling.

Her granddaughter gave an emotional eulogy and told us, while tearing up, that she was so glad she gave her grandmother a big hug last July—even though she wasn’t supposed to. I said, out loud, “Good! I am glad, too.” She was emotional when she told us that she wishes she had been able to hug her grandmother more and be there for her in the last few months. COVID restrictions prevented them from getting close to one another. Hearing the granddaughter say this caused me to choke up. I said out loud, “COVID sucks. That’s horrible.” The realities of this horrible disease really hit home for me. 

Even though the audio and video of the livestream wasn’t the greatest, I was able to get a good feel for what was going on. Watching it from the comfort of our living room was the next best thing to being there. Thank God for technology.

There were two highlights for me. The first was the granddaughter’s speech as it was so heartfelt. I also loved how the priest took the burning incense and swung it over the casket, which was draped with a gold and cream-coloured cloth. This is the part of a Catholic funeral that I think is most meaningful. It symbolizes the person’s spirit rising into heaven. The smoke provides a visual of the spirit leaving the body and moving onwards. 

The daughter says Mom suffered for 15 years and she has been wanting to be with God for a while now. She is finally resting in peace. 

Experiencing this online funeral, in my pajamas, in my living room, has been another rude awakening to how COVID is affecting our lives. Not only did it take someone’s life, but it also took away the traditional, proper sendoff that Catholics are accustomed to.

It’s been over ten months since COVID uprooted our lives and changed our social norms. The vaccine is here, but it’s still going to be months before we start seeing any semblance of what life used to be like. 

I now have a first-hand account of how COVID can take the life of a dear one and what a COVID-safe Catholic funeral mass looks and feels like. It is very sad. It is hard to fathom that at a person’s greatest time of need—after losing a loved one—touches and hugs from people outside of their household is prohibited. 

What is there, however, is the community’s love and support. It’s all virtual and from a safe distance, but it’s there. I hope they feel it. I am sending lots of warm, caring virtual hugs to those grieving. 

Riposa in pace, dear one.

Angela G. Gentile, M.S.W, R.S.W.