This week’s show revisits my 2014 interview with Bobby Payzant, an inmate at the Maine State Prison. We discuss the crime for which he is serving time, and his work as a hospice volunteer, giving care to inmates dying in prison. Bobby’s insights about the power of presence and open-hearted caregiving upended my notions of what it would be like to talk to someone convicted of a violent crime, and challenge the stigma our society places upon those with criminal records.
In this interview from 2011, I speak with Catharine Murray about how writing poetry helped her heal from a loss that initially felt unspeakable – the death of her 6 year old son. She explains how sitting down to write allows her to create a new space to work with her sadness, and she shares three poems that illustrate the evolution of her grief and her ongoing healing. Her story offers a novel approach to healing from all kinds of losses.
We continue our series on hidden feelings this week with two stories about guilt, the kind we feel when we believe we didn’t do enough at the end of a parent’s life. We’ll hear from people who were troubled by the way they failed to show up for their parents, and discuss the process of finding relief from that guilt.
This episode features two conversations with people involved in the hospice program within the state prison in Warren, Maine. First we speak with the program’s founder, Kandyce Powell, executive director of the Maine Hospice Council. Kandyce talks about the genesis of the prison’s hospice program, her motivation for starting it, and the difference it has made in the lives of the men who die in prison, as well in the lives of the prisoners who volunteer to provide them care. In the second half of the episode we hear from one of those inmates, Bobby Payzant, who has been part of the program for more than two years. He talks about why he is incarcerated, and how he became interested in joining the hospice program. He also reveals that the hospice volunteers have formed a band called The Sounds of Comfort, and we close the episode with one of their songs.
This week we conclude our series on the untold stories of dementia by presenting a collection of stories from you, our listeners, about the ways that dementia has affected your lives. This collection of ten stories reflects the wide range of experiences and emotions that result from having a loved one with dementia – including frustration and poignant loss, but also warmth, connection, and surprising moments of sweetness.
Update: We received two other contributions to this series from listeners: A link to an Alzheimer’s documentary by Scott Kirschenbaum. The film follows one woman as she talks about her life in an assisted living facility and can be found at: yourelookingatme.com
And this picture below from Sandra Horne, from some of her last days looking after her grandmother who had dementia.