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Sarosy: Looking Back On Accomplishments of 2021

Sarosy - Wyoming
Becky Farrell/AARP Wyoming

By Kate Sarosy
AARP Wyoming State President

As we approach the end of another year (I am writing this a few days after Thanksgiving), I am once again looking back and thinking about what I’ve accomplished and what I am grateful for. It’s been a tumultuous year, for sure. Two things stand out for me.

One, I bought a motorcycle, something I’ve wanted to do for years. I took the WyDOT Rider Course and finally overcame my fears of falling, crashing, etc. The bike is a small one and doesn’t go much faster than 50 or 60 mph, but I’ve had great fun just riding around town and the neighborhoods in Casper. It’s just right for a 70+ year-old who wants to die without too many regrets.

Two, I’ve expanded my training as a hospice volunteer to be more of a companion to those at the end of life, especially as it relates to spiritual matters. It means being a nonjudgmental presence, a listener as people struggle with their fears and distress around dying.

I have had the privilege of being a volunteer for the not-for-profit Central Wyoming Hospice and Transitions for five years or so. This recent training brings opportunities to engage with patients on a more intimate level as they confront the reality of their impending death. The task is not to fix, but to encourage people to give voice to their concerns and wishes, and to listen and acknowledge.

A couple of resources have been especially helpful in this work:

The book “Companioning the Dying: A Soulful Guide for Caregivers” by Greg Yoder.

Whether you work with the dying in your career or as a volunteer or you are a family member or friend to someone who is dying, the book helps you know how to respond and how to handle your own emotions.

*The tool “Five Wishes” developed by the not-for-profit organization Aging with Dignity

It is essentially a living will (or advanced directive) that talks about your personal, emotional and spiritual needs as well as your medical wishes. It is helpful in engaging people in conversation about their last wishes.I am grateful for all that the year has brought, especially the opportunities: for deeper joy when riding with the wind; for deeper engagement with the aging/dying; and for deeper appreciation for family and friends. My hope for you is that you find times for joy and gratitude in 2022.

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