Nov 11, 2007
By SHARMA HOWARD
A massage therapist by vocation and an artist by passion, Jean Lazar has one other job, one she describes as her calling - volunteering at hospice.
When her mother died of cancer in 1996, Lazar, who was the primary caretaker, said her heart broke. She remembered asking her mother's Oncologist how he could work with the dying.
Now she understands. And with each home she walks into, she adapts to the needs of the patient and family, aware of the grief, but also grateful for the love and lessons she learns.
"There really are no words to say that - your heart is so wide open and full of love," the Ledyard resident said. "You're realizing with so much. I do massage therapy and they appreciate the touch. When you're ill, people don't touch you anymore."
The glimpses into ordinary people struggling with the most arduous task we face - death - has yielded a moving, if not spiritually inclined book, "Their Last Painting."
Each piece in the book is inspired by patients and families Lazar cared for while volunteering for Hospice of Southeastern Connecticut. At the beginning of each chapter, Lazar has included a drawing depicting the spiritual and emotional process of the family.
While some people may turn away from Hospice, viewing its services as an affirmation they are indeed dying, a study conducted by the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization, in collaboration with Milliman Inc., reported patients who received hospice care lived about one month longer than patients who did not choose hospice care.