A still from Lifetime’s 2017 remake of the film Beaches. CC (Idina Menzel) comforts her lifelong friend Hillary (Nia Long) after she has fallen on the floor of the beach house where Hillary, who has end stage congestive heart failure, has chosen to stay in her last days.
Why Shared Housing at the End of Life?
Sometimes art and movies can act as distillations of concepts even if the universe the characters live in is impossibly resource-rich while at the same time remarkably isolated. Recently, a patient of mine was in the mood for a good cry, so we loaded up Lifetime’s 2017 remake of the film Beaches, available to watch on Pluto TV with many, many ads.
Near the end of the movie, rich successful lawyer Hillary, played by Nia Long, has tragically been diagnosed with a hereditary form of congestive heart failure, and decides to move into her summer beach house, to spend her last days with her young daughter, and her rich successful singer/actor best friend CC, played by the wickedly talented one and only Adele Dazeem.
Through the magic of television, these lifelong friends discuss wills, end of life wishes, and provide physical and emotional care for each other, over the course of mere minutes. The only people they interact with are each other, while also caring for and supporting a child.
Unrealistic as such a situation might be in my life, the essence of what we hope for through Holding Space, is there. Hillary’s desire for a comfortable, familiar space to die, surrounded by the people who mean the most to her. She makes her plans and wishes clear, through wills and advance directives – in a scene plainly stating to CC that she does not want to go to the ER, even as her physical condition deteriorates.
The vast expectation of unpaid family and friend caregivers continues to be documented and studied (Ornstein, et al, 2017). About 1 in 4 end of life unpaid primary caregivers report receiving no help from other friends and family, and over half report having no time to themselves.
Holding Space strives to foster a sense of community and sharing of space and resources. Shared housing is just one concrete way to cultivate connections, especially for people at the end of life and their primary caregiver(s).
Circa 2005 photo of Americorps NCCC Class XI Blue 2, Gabriel at the far left.
Holding Space to Host Americorps NCCC Team
From September 26 – October 18, 2021, we will be hosting an Americorps NCCC team of 18-24 year olds from across the country to build a ramp to the front of the house, accessible pathways through the gardens, and composting area, to create a more inclusive community gathering space. We will also collaborate with other local community groups to provide the team with further connections to the various efforts in our communities. Gabriel had done Americorps NCCC in 2004/2005 and remains friends with many of his teammates.
Asher Leigh August 14th Backyard Concert
Join Asher Leigh on Aug 14th for a musical evening of sacred remembering, in honor of her mother’s recent death and any other losses you or your loved ones may be grieving. An open grief circle will be held after music. 7-9pm. $7-10 suggested, though no one will be turned away. Please RSVP at email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org for directions.
This summer, join Institute for the Study of Birth, Breath, and Death founder/director Amy Wright Glenn for a 5-hour, in person Grief Work Training Sunday, August 1st 1-6pm EST
*We will gather in Black Mountain, NC ~ outside of Asheville ~ address will be given upon registration.
*All participants must be vaccinated or wear a mask.