COVID-19 –  Uncharted Waters

In her blog post, UNCHARTED WATERS – DEALING WITH COVID-19, our transatlantic colleague, Janice Willett, talks of projecting calmness and planting the seed of positivity.

During these most difficult times, medical staff is desperately attempting to navigate through uncharted waters …trying to assist patients, while trying to keep themselves afloat.  There is not only fear and anxiety among the patients but among staff as well. Dealing with who is sick, dealing with am I sick, am I going to get sick, do I feel sick … the inner voices never seem to rest.  

We are at war against an enemy we don’t know how to fight.  Patients are looking to us for answers we don’t have and are ill-equipped to deal with. Many times this can lead us to feelings of inadequacy as if we are failing our patients.

At such high stress times we must try to speak more softly and slowly, walk more slowly and breathe more slowly not only to calm our minds and bodies, but to keep those around us calmer.  Co-workers sense it, patients sense it … somehow seeing someone who acts calm makes us feel they are in control. That is what we are all seeking now, some sense of control in an uncontrolled environment.

We must realize that patients not only fear the thought of dying, they fear dying alone.  This is huge in light of the current conditions wherein visitors are banned, personal items are banned, and it feels like one is being stripped of their belongings and put in a prison.  Closed doors, isolation, no human contact except for the sterile medical visits.  It is far from feeling loved, and lacks the feel of the human touch of reassurance.

Being we all thrive on hope, the patient needs to see that glimmer of light, which has a way of planting a seed of positivity. No one can plant that seed except the medical staff that enters the patient’s room. If the patient needs a respirator, there is still hope.  If they need to be intubated, there is still hope. As difficult as it is to see a patient suffer and feel doomed, we really don’t know the final outcome. So let’s enter every patient room slowly, speaking slowly and breathing slowly.  Let’s let the patient feel you are calm and in control.  Let them know there have been many patients that have gotten much worse before they got better.  This is one thing we can control … our thoughts and emotions.

Let the patient know that you value their courage and perseverance. We need to keep in mind that it is the staff that can help create their peace … whether it is at the end of their stay or the end of their life.

By J.I. Willett, Chaplain and Award-winning Author of

“Dying without Crying” and “Affairs of the Heart” (

Uniting “The Natural Divide” … Interpreting the language of the Dying

As a volunteer hospital chaplain and author of the hospice~utilized book “Dying Without Crying,” I find one of the most prominent struggles between the world of the dying and the world of the living is communication.

Because the language of the dying embraces physical cues as well as verbal, many times family, friends and caregivers are missing important opportunities to understand and connect.

For example, while the dying are communicating “I’m preparing for death” by rejecting food or drink, the living are offering words of encouragement for nourishment in order to gain strength for healing.

Herein we are confronted with the ardent task of having the difficult conversation to guide the living from the state of denial, the cheerleader role, to confronting the death of their loved one.

As a Chaplain, our goal is to assist the living in acknowledging their fears, and to help them handle and make sense of not only of the death of their loved-one, but also to discuss how this event causes us to face our own mortality.  I sometimes use the quote “we’re all traveling down the same road, we just arrive at different times” which seems to make sense to most.

It is often difficult for those who will be left behind to imagine a world without their loved one. This is where we try to move them beyond their fears by speaking about their memories, good times and bad, which promotes the realization that although a loved one dies, their memory lives on.

Once this “natural divide” is united, the patient and their loved ones can begin their grieving process through verbal and/or physical expression … beginning their healing process through facing death together, expression of love, meanings of their relationships, past experiences and forgiveness where needed.

There is nothing more important and more rewarding than bridging the “divide” and having the honor of facilitating a good death experience for all. 

J.I. Willett, Pastoral Care Chaplain

Award willing Author of “Dying Without Crying” & “Affairs of the Heart”

“Conversation of Your Life” Task Force Member

Member National Association of Catholic Chaplains

Karen Kelly Boyce Book Review on Dying without Crying by J.I. Willett

As a cancer survivor, I was attracted to this little golden book with the cherry blossom branches reaching across the cover. What a title? Dying without Crying? What could this author mean? I had to investigate.
Death is not a popular subject. It seems we spend most of our life avoiding the elephant in the room. J.I. Willett doesn’t hide from the uncomfortable. She plunges in. With faith, hope, and fascinating personal stories, this author encourages us to look at the road ahead to see what awaits us beyond the horizon.
Readers are taken on that journey. We travel with Willett on the road we eventually all must walk. It is a spiritual path, not a depressing one. With great care and wonderful talent this author brings us safely down the path of death and into the arms of our awaiting God.
With chapters like “Know Thyself” and “Who needs a Martyr” we are guided into the importance of facing our own death and the death of those we love with courage and planning. We are drawn spiritually and emotionally into the truth that we have been avoiding most of our life. We are all going to leave and we are going before we are ready if we don’t look at death and live our lives in the present.
How to stand beside those we love as they leave this life is touched upon with tender gentleness and practical advice.
This book may be tiny, but the impact is enormous. The ease-to-read prose may be simple but its’ concepts are deep. It is a book to read and refer to repeatedly as we face the inevitable. It is a volume that should be given to all the harried caretakers who carry loved ones through the end of their days on earth. It should be read by all healthcare workers and hospice volunteers. It is a gift to be given to those with terminal illnesses. Dying without Cryingis a gem that glows with the wisdom of the ages and shines a light on faith, death and love.
 ~  KarenKellyBoyce, Author
      May 17, 2016
Found at

“Dying without Crying” by J.I. Willett By Jeannie Ewing

J.I. Willett offers her wisdom in her very readable book,Dying Without Crying. Unlike other lengthy treatises on life, death, and the afterlife, Willett takes the reader’s hand into her own and journeys alongside them – into the reality of death, but also the beauty, potential, and even gift that dying offers each of us.
With nuggets of wisdom peppered throughout this short read, Willett knows firsthand that caregivers and care receivers aren’t in a position for heady, intellectual reading.  So the spirituality she provides is punchy, yet profound.
Readers can take segments of the book as they have time to read it, or they can skip to pertinent chapters that can assist them in understanding and accepting the reality of death. While death can be a confusing and emotional time, Willett provides that comfort and guidance that is much needed along the path of grief. But she does it in such a way that neither downplays nor sugar coats the often raw and very painful parts of dying.
Dying Without Cryingis a beautiful, universal grief resource for Catholics and even as an ecumenical book for non-Catholics or even non-Christians.
Text Copyright 2016 Jeannie Ewiing
Found at

April Newsletter 2016



ACTS 18:9-10
“Do not be afraid; keep on speaking, do not be silent. For I am with you.”

Prior to the printing of “Affairs of the Heart,” I heard God say that one day I would be speaking in front of a group of people … and to remember they will not be coming to see me … they will be coming to hear Him speak through me.

As my 33 year vocation at that time was in the landscaping profession, the thought of this message seemed foreign and unsettling. I felt nervous and afraid to face the future if I would have to speak in front of a group.

As the time did come for me to share my faith-based journey through speaking, I realized I could only do what God instructed through faith, trust and surrender to Him.

Do you know what God is calling you to do in your life for the praise and glory of His name?  Are there doubts or fears holding you back?  If so, evaluate if you are allowing the Lord to lead you. Only when we let go of control and surrender our trust in Him can we accomplish things we never thought possible.

Remember … God repeatedly appeared to Paul to strengthen and encourage him. Allow the Lord the same opportunity with you.

Have a blessed, trusting, faith-filled day with the Lord.

February Newsletter 2016



Luke 4:8
And Jesus answered and said to him, “Get you behind me, Satan: for it is written you shall worship the Lord your God.”

During this 40-day period of Lent, let us consider Jesus being led by the Holy Spirit on His 40 day journey in the wilderness. Think of the struggles He endured and the temptations He rejected.

May we strive to emulate his dedication to prayer, fasting and reflection in order to strengthen ourselves against the temptations we face on a daily basis. May we be fortified and strengthened by our daily prayers and spiritual reflections in order to stay focused on worshipping the true God … the God of the Bible, not the material images many fall prey to worshipping.

May our efforts of these 40 days become habit, learning to resist our egos of pride and greed. May we silence selfishness and magnify selflessness as we journey with God in a prayerful and meaningful way.

God bless!

January Newsletter 2016


John 6:35
Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.”

Hunger and thirst are basic human needs that are appeased with food and drink.  At times, no matter what or how much we take in, our hunger is still not satisfied. Our bellies are full, and yet we still feel empty.

Perhaps this may be an indication for us to change our focus and decipher if it is our soul that is lacking in nourishment. Spiritually speaking, there is a hunger and thirst for God that often is not recognized for what it is. Perhaps that empty feeling is a sense of longing or loneliness, and we are masking the pangs of hunger within.

In this broken world we need to remember more than ever that in addition to the Lord providing us with bodily nourishment, He is calling us to feed our souls on a daily basis. He wants to satisfy our deepest longings and desires, nourishing us with His love and compassion, so we may never hunger or thirst again.

As much as we may search to satisfy our physical desires in this lifetime, in the end it is only God who can fulfill us … and who we should be longing for.

Have a blessed day!

December Newsletter 2015


Luke 1: 38
“I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May your word to me be fulfilled.”  Then the angel left her.

In Luke 1:38 an angel of God descended upon Mary to inform her of the wondrous gift God was going to bestow upon her. Although she was overwhelmed by the greatness of this experience, she did not doubt nor deny God the opportunity of using her as His vessel.

We all know in the depths of our hearts when God is calling us to do great things; yet, how many times do we reject His requests? God calls us to do great things, to be great people, to be the best versions of ourselves. Perhaps during this advent season as we await the gift, the birth of Christ, we should reevaluate the personal requests we denied God of fulfilling.

May we use this time to not only anticipate the birth of our Lord, but to allow God to use us as a vessel for His and our greatest good. After all, what if Mary had said “no “?

Wishing you and your families a blessed, joyous, healthy Christmas. May God bless us all!

November Newsletter 2015


Psalm 95:4
“In whose hand are the depths of the earth, the peaks of the mountains are His also.”

Recently, I saw this cross boldly painted far up the side of a steep mountain in California. I could not imagine all that it would take for a person to traverse the rough terraine to such heights, no less carrying the paint and tools used to boldly proclaim their love of the Lord.

Although we all may not be equipped to climb mountains, we all have the ability to display our love of God through our daily actions. Our constant expression of faith shouts out our love to the Lord and prevails over the fears of uncertainty in this world.

This Thanksgiving season, let us etch the cross in our hearts and display it’s presence boldly through our actions, deeds and words. Climb to the heights of your own personal mountain and make your proclamation to God.

Someone climbed a mountain in California to paint a Cross … what is your goal today?

Many blessings to you and your families for a healthy and joyous Thanksgiving.

October Newsletter 2015


“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.

Yesterday, while at my gym, I accumulated several hand weights. One by one, exercise by exercise, they were easy enough to handle. However, when it was time to put them back I encountered a problem. As I began to walk with them tucked under my arms and in my hands, I realized I needed help as one of the weights began to slip. I knew I would ask the next person I passed to take some of the weights from me before they all fell to the floor.

Suddenly I realized that this is exactly what Jesus wants us to ask of Him. He wants us to hand our troubles to Him one by one before they become so heavy that we are feeling weighed down. The Lord extends an open invitation for us to bring our weighty burdensome troubles to him – so why do we delay asking the Lord “will you take this from me?”

Have a blessed unencumbered day.