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Hospice News WINTER 2 01 7

Veterans Helping Veterans Honoring, Respecting & Welcoming Home

The Art of Dying Living a Meaningful Death

Dr. Holm’s Prayer And How You Can Pray for Him



Henry Buchholtz of Aurora loved to cook. His baked beans became a staple at the annual Brookings County Veterans Memorial pork feed and Aurora Fire Department events. During community pancake feeds, he’d settle in the kitchen with his griddle, turning flapjacks to feed the masses. “When he made pancakes for the Legion, he was the only man with all the Auxiliary women who was cooking,” said Henry’s oldest daughter, Sandy Nilges of Aurora. “The women were measuring ingredients, and he’d say, ‘Just dump it in, and you can tell if you’ve got enough,’” added his younger daughter, Linda Smidt, also of Aurora. In fact, Henry mixed pancakes at the Pike/Huska American Legion Post #230 the same way he did during his three years in the Navy. His parents signed for him to enlist in 1943 when he was only 17 years old. He served as a cook in the South Pacific during World War II aboard the U.S.S. New Orleans, what he would refer to as his ship. After the war, he married his wife, Alice, and settled in Aurora, working as a butcher at Artz Locker in Brookings for 40 years. In addition to their daughters, the couple also had twin sons, Dennis and David. Henry served on both the Aurora School Board and the Aurora Town Board, making such an impact on the community that Aurora named a park after him. But the service Henry was proudest of was his time in the military, always remembering his ship. And when Henry entered hospice care with Brookings Health System last winter, he finally got to see pictures of the New Orleans again thanks to the We Honor Veterans program.


We Honor Veterans is a campaign from the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization

(NHPCO) and Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) that teaches hospice providers respectful inquiry, compassionate listening and grateful acknowledgement to comfort patients with a history of military service and possible physical or psychological trauma. By participating in the program, Brookings Health System’s hospice professionals and volunteers learn how to honor, respect and welcome home veterans. As a part of the We Honor Veterans program, Brookings Health System offers a Veteran-to-Veteran volunteer program which pairs recruited veteran volunteers with veteran hospice patients. Veteran volunteers have the unique ability to relate and connect with hospice patients who have military experience and create an environment where life review and healing may occur. Henry was matched with Veteran-to-Veteran Volunteer Roger Brown of Aurora, who served in the Army for 27 years. As a hospice volunteer for the past year, Roger visits with local hospice patients to connect with them and help them process emotions and memories as they reach end-of-life. As a veteran himself, Roger understands the distinct culture among those who have served in the military. When Roger visited Henry in his home, he listened to Henry’s stories about his ship. “He told me about Typhoon Cobra,” said Roger. “He said, ‘In my entire life that’s probably the most scared I’ve ever been.’ They lost three destroyers in that storm. He also told me about the time the front of the New Orleans was blown off.” Roger researched the U.S.S. New Orleans online and came back to Henry with a CD filled with images of his ship, pictures Henry had never seen before.

“Dad was all excited,” said Linda, “and then I think because Roger was in the service, they could talk about stuff like that. He really liked that.” In addition, Roger researched information on Typhoon Cobra and the bombing of the New Orleans and brought it for Henry to read. He tried to visit Henry once a week. One week he also convinced fellow hospice volunteer Nancy Gries to come along with him and bring her keyboard. She played for Henry, including the song, “Praise the Lord and Pass the Ammunition,” which purportedly was inspired by the U.S.S New Orleans chaplain during the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. “I thought it was really nice that Roger would take his time and come and visit him. Dad looked forward to the visits, too,” said Sandy. “He knew Roger was going to come on that day.” When Henry became weak and started falling frequently, he told his hospice nurse he wanted to move to a nursing home. Brookings Health System helped Henry and his family arrange for care at Estelline Nursing and Care Center. His hospice services from Brookings Health moved with him, providing Henry comfort during his last days. Roger made it a point to continue visiting Henry, traveling to Estelline to listen to his stories, increasing his number of visits as time became short. When Henry passed away this past July, Roger went to his funeral. There, Henry’s family thanked Roger for the camaraderie he provided their father. “The families always tell me the clients really look forward to my visit,” said Roger. “I get more out of it than the client does. The stories are just fantastic. There’s a closeness; we get to be friends. I don’t look it as just a chore going out. I look forward to going out to see people.”

Veteran volunteers like Roger form a strong relational bond with veteran hospice patients like Henry, but more volunteers are needed to help serve the unique needs of veterans and non-veterans alike as they enter hospice care. “So many of our veterans were just kids when they were asked to serve our military,” said Mavis Gehant, retiring hospice social worker at Brookings Health System. “We know now that the human brain isn’t mature until age 25. And these were 18-, 19-year-old farm kids from South Dakota who suddenly saw so many things drastically different from the place they grew up in. For many of them, they still haven’t fully processed those experiences and may still at this point in their life need to find resolution for their memories. That’s where our Veteranto-Veteran volunteers can help play such a critical role.” Volunteers receive initial training from hospice staff and also meet monthly with other volunteers for additional training. Volunteers are encouraged to find their niche, whether it’s playing music, running errands, or visiting and listening to life experiences. Part of the training includes the grieving process when a volunteer loses a patient they’ve become close to. “I have to deal with it every time,” says Roger of his hospice clients. “You just have to be brave enough and know you’re going to have to deal with it, but it’s worth making a difference for them.” Individuals with who are interested in becoming hospice volunteers may contact Brookings Health System Hospice at (605) 696-7700 or fill out an application located at More information about Brookings Health System Hospice can be found online at

Brookings Health System Hospice would like to acknowledge with appreciation the following donations (received through 12/31/16): In Memory of Rod Vincent Shelby Gilbertson Michelle Madsen Arlington School Staff Patrick and Tami Steffensen Larry and Donna Frahm Martha Bohls Marlys Reierson Stephanie Damm Steve and Alison Gilbertson Karen and Roger Spilde Joe and Heidi Spilde Terry and Patricia Vincent

In Memory of Bob Roe Dave and Sue Karolczak Donation from Katheryn and James Berreth Donation from Arlene Hendrickson Donation from St Thomas More Catholic Church winter 2017


THE art OF DYING Do you think that you can eliminate death? Do you think that you can postpone Gregg TeBeest Chaplain

death? Do you imagine that you can even have the slightest effect on death? Do not be fooled: we cannot control death.

I wonder what you are thinking after reading the questions above. Not very positive are they? The words of Lao Tzu are not easily received by people who live in a death denying culture. We worship youth in our culture. We demand health and long life, in some cases at any cost. But the words of the Tao are true nonetheless. Those who care for the dying know this best of all. This article is for the caregivers of our world, especially those devoted wives and husbands, family and friends who care for their dying loved ones at home.

person chooses. It allows the dying to think, do, or be whatever the dying want to think, do, or be. It is true wei wu wei. Human nature wants to control death. It’s an impossible burden. The good news is that we don’t need to. It is not always easy, but it is possible to do by not doing and thus to grow in the art of dying. Experienced caregivers know this to be true. Reflecting on the wisdom of the Tao will help us to grow in the art of dying:

Many scholars believe the Tao Te Ching was written about five hundred years before Christ. It was written as a guide for living a meaningful life. But reading its passages reveal that it applies just as easily to the art of dying as to living. Living a meaningful death is what hospice is all about. Hospice or palliative care may be defined as caring for people without trying to change or cure them. This definition of palliation closely parallels the Tao Te Ching’s central concept of wei wu wei, literally translated as doing by not doing. In hospice care, people (including their beliefs and cultures) are accepted for what they are without trying to alter, manipulate or control them. Perhaps you have heard the term “good death” to describe the dying process. For many people, factors that constitute a good death include dying at home, with family and friends and without stressful physical symptoms (nausea and vomiting, pain, respiratory tract secretions, pain, and agitation). Other terms are used of a good death but I prefer the term “meaningful death.” A meaningful death goes beyond the mere act of dying. It encapsulates not just the experience but the person. Doug Smith, a hospice administrator, writes that a “healthy death” provides the dying with as much control as possible. It promotes opportunities for reminisce and laughter, for expressions of anger and sadness and the experience of touching and being touched. It prompts for explorations of spirituality and accepts whatever coping strategy the dying


Coming without expectations, the caregiver feels no disappointment. Coming without the need to experience success, the caregiver feels no failure. Coming without the need to exercise power, the caregiver feels no weaknesses. Without trying to take, the caregiver receives in multiple ways. Trying to control is fruitless. Yet a rich harvest comes to those who allow for growth.

How Should I Pray for You? Early October, my belly started aching and over a week, with good local care, and after extensive testing, the diagnosis of cancer of the bile duct and pancreas came down upon me.

A large team of multi-specialists met and discussed

I have had an absolutely great life, loved and played with gusto, and gathered all the fun I could have at every juncture. I have done my level best to help people with the tools of my profession, and I even know that some days I made a difference. I’ve tried to be 100% honest at every turn. I’m surrounded by a wonderful spouse, and honest, creative kids. I’m writing a book about health care at end-of-life. Our multi-faith choir sings hymns weekly to people in need. All that helps. Maybe I’m naive, but I sense my soul is content and even joyful.

my options, and they think I might have a chance at a surgical cure, but have recommended pre-surgery chemo-therapy, which has been started. When they go in surgically to remove the tumor, we will learn if it has spread or not. So I am facing a formidable challenge, and as an experienced internist, I probably understand this process more than almost anyone. I should add here that I have explored every option, including the Mayo and elsewhere, nutritional alternatives, everything. I am very comfortable with my recognized and experienced surgeon in Sioux Falls and his partner the oncologist. I also realize there is a significant chance that the tumor has spread, and long-term chemo may be my option.

If I die from pancreatic cancer at 67 or 68, my family will suffer some, but I know that in the long run, they will celebrate my life, and I would encourage that. My tombstone will allude to my oft repeated comment as we sail, even when there is no wind... “We’re not dead in the water.” My tombstone shall read, “Finally, dead in the water.” I love it… humor even unto death.

A dear psychologist-minister friend from afar wrote and asked how my soul is with all this, and how should he pray for us. My answer was as follows:

So, you asked how I want you to pray? I would ask you pray that all of us see and accept our own dying process. Pray that we learn to savor every moment, every friend, and every grandeur/smudge/scent/or splash of the world around us. And pray that we find a way to open our hearts to others, walk in another’s moccasins, and find compassion, even for our enemies.”

“Dear Steve, I was 16 when I faced the sudden accidental death of my older sister. Add to that, I’ve been a geriatrician for 38 years, and hospice director for more than 20, so you know I’ve been living with the reality of my own death for a long time. My faith surrounds and envelops me. I’m okay with dying. I am trying to put it off as long as I can, but I’m okay if it happens sooner.

Richard P. Holm MD

That is my prayer for all of you.

winter 2017


The Hospice EXPERIENCE This is my first article as the new Hospice Social Worker. This article seems like a good Denise Larson Hospice Social Worker

opportunity for you to get to know me and my experiences with hospice. There have been a number of my past experiences that have prepared me for this position.

In 1995, I lost a dear friend who died at the age of 35 from cancer and was on hospice. As a caregiver to my mom during her time on hospice and a volunteer for the area agency, I learned a great deal about the importance and value of this service. As a caregiver I learned to listen, provide a break for my dad and the challenges and joys of caregiving for someone you love. As a volunteer, I learned the importance of being there and the value of active listening. I would like to share one of my most cherished stories with you. In March 1996 there was a week that still remains etched in my memory. My mom was in the hospital for surgery for gallstones where they found gall bladder cancer that had already traveled to her other organs. She was 61 years old and was given six months to live. That news came on Monday and on Thursday the news came that my husband’s mother had died in California of pancreatic cancer. My mother-in-law had been on hospice and my mom was to now go on hospice. I then began the process of educating myself on this rare form of terminal cancer. At the time the rarity was 0.4 of 1% who gets gallbladder cancer. After going to the doctor and learning about her options, my mom decided not do any treatment. She didn’t want all the side effects and the prognosis was that it wouldn’t really make much difference anyway. My role was to support my mom in her decision to not seek treatment and it was important to her that I approved. I understood it was her right to make the choice that she felt was the best one for her. With a timeline of six months or less, our family began the journey of celebrating the time we had left to spend with my mom. I use the word celebrating because this time became a precious gift to all of us. We made time to spend doing things she loved, time sharing special memories, sharing our love and communicating our


words of farewell. This time gave my dad, me and the rest of my family an immeasurable gift of blessings. Those blessings continue to be a very special part of the memories I have of my mom. This is my wish for each family that enters into our hospice program. This can be a special time for you and your loved one. As the disease began to take its course, my mom got weaker and she was confined to bed. A bed was put in my parent’s living room where the curtains could be opened wide to expose the southern sunlight. A large coffee table in front of the window was filled with plants that my mom loved. My mom used to spend hours tending to her flowers and they were something that gave her pleasure. It was a Friday that I came to help take care of my mom for the day. In her weakened voice she asked me to call everyone home. I asked her, “Is it time?” She answered with a slight nod and a faint, “Yes.” Family was notified and they came to say their good-byes. My sister and I took that time to say a final thank you to our mom for everything she had done for us and tell her it was ok for her to go. Two days later on Sunday at 7:00 in the morning, I went into the living room. I said I love you and good-bye to my mom and then quietly went in to another room to pray. I left the room because I had a strong feeling that my mom needed to be alone. When I came back 15 minutes later, she had gone to be with her Lord. It was difficult to lose my mom and there are times when those memories come flooding back, but I still remain comforted by the special blessings of her final months that she was with us. All these experiences have led me to where I am today as a hospice social worker.

understanding grief S I X W E E K E D U C AT I O N A L S E R I E S B E G I N N I N G M A R C H 6 TH The experience of grief is unique to each individual. There are, however, emotional and physical symptoms, thoughts and behaviors that tend to be present among many people who grieve. Understanding what these are and learning ways to cope with them can be helpful when one is grieving. This program not only focuses on understanding and coping but also provides a source of support for class members. You are welcome to attend all or some of the classes. TOPICS: Symptoms/Process of Grief, Coping Strategies, Caring for One’s Self, and The Continuing Bond

DATES: Beginning Monday, March 6

WHERE: Brookings Health System

TIMES: 1–2:30 p.m. or 6:30–8 p.m.

PRE-REGISTER: Visit or call (605) 696-7700

PRESENTER: Denise Larson, MSW, CSW


MEET THE VOLUNTEERS RACHEL HENSELIN Rachel is a junior nursing student at SDSU. She has been a hospice volunteer for a year. She felt that becoming a volunteer would be a great nursing experience. Connecting with someone during this special time in their life was important to her. Rachel has enjoyed each of her uniquely different volunteer experiences. In her spare time she enjoys reading, shopping, knitting and spending time with her family.

JAN OLSON Jan has been a volunteer since 1990. A friend encouraged her to become a volunteer and she has enjoyed having an activity that helps others. Jan’s activities have been helping to write thank you’s, sending out the Journey newsletter and the Hospice News. Jan works part time as a home health aide. In her spare time, Jan enjoys reading and scrapbooking.

JESSICA LEAT Jessica became a volunteer last year because of the positive impact volunteering for hospice had on her father. She is a senior at SDSU and plans to attend medical school after graduating in December. As a volunteer she enjoys just talking about life with the hospice clients. She supports the patient-focused care. Jessica enjoys running, reading, travelling and spending time with friends. She just returned from a medical mission trip to the Dominican Republic.

MEGHAN SCHENK One of our newest volunteers is Meghan, a junior human biology major at SDSU. She grew up on a farm in a family of six. She decided to be a volunteer because she has learned the value and importance of interaction with others. This discovery came as she watched her grandmother in her final days. Meghan enjoys seeing the joy in people’s faces when she visits.

NATALIE MORRIS Natalie comes from Canby, MN, and attends school at SDSU. She is studying human biology as her major with a minor in Spanish. It was important for Natalie to be there for someone during this time in their life and provide inspiration. She has found being a hospice volunteer valuable in expanding her skills and it challenges her as an individual. Natalie enjoys playing golf and singing.

winter 2017


300 Twenty-Second Avenue Brookings, SD 57006 ADDRESS SERVICE REQUESTED

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Hospice News is published by Brookings Health System. This publication in no way seeks to serve as substitute for professional medical care. Consult your physician before undertaking any form of medical treatment or adopting any exercise program or dietary guidelines.

We Extend Sympathy to the families of patients lost through December 2016: Robert Brown


Charlotte Piehl


Gladys Dahl


Robert Roe

LaVonne Johnson


Raymond Rowland

Erland Juntunen


Mary Skovlund

Curtis Larkin


Francis Turner


Arnold Molstad


Rod Vincent


Robert Olson


3/3/54–11/18/16 1/10/32–11/20/16 11/22/38–11/15/16

Hospice News Winter 2017  
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