Rosiland Whiteley

Recorded August 25, 2015 Archived September 18, 2015 34:45 minutes
0:00 / 0:00
Id: lsk001342


Rosiland (56 y.o.) discusses the evolution of personal growth related to empathy, compassion, and care of the dying as a hospice nurse. She also talks about searching for meaningful/non-superficial relationships.


  • Rosiland Whiteley

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00:01 Roslyn Whiteley age 56 today's date is August 25th.

00:10 2015 in Marshall, North Carolina

00:15 In relationship to partner is just self.

00:23 I find that. This is a great opportunity to review my own existence and where I've come to today and caring for dying of which I've been doing for the last 18 years or so actually even more than 18 years.

00:46 I was born in 1959 and Fort Lauderdale, Florida when Fort Lauderdale was still very

01:01 Unpopulated because Miami had really been the area that was highly developed and Fort Lauderdale was just beginning its it's real development. I remember everyone was so ecstatic because Billy Graham had built a church not far from where I lived and it was just a massive million-dollar church and everybody was just amazed that was coming to Fort Lauderdale and the Everglades at that time or just the Everglades and cow pastures were about 15 miles from the ocean.

01:48 Going west and now that's all highly developed malls communities.

01:58 So there's been massive changes.

02:02 At a very early age. I was faced with the mindset of racism.

02:12 And the US and the them

02:17 That Disturbed me and I was always trying to bridge the commonality between us and I can remember a story when I was 5 years old and we were taking a train trip to Pennsylvania to see my grandmother who was a housekeeper for a priest and lived in a rectory and we would visit her during the summer and I remember being on this train and seeing another little girl my age five or six and she was with her mom and I walked up there and sat down next to her and we began to talk and she said she was Jewish.

03:04 And having been raised Catholic.

03:07 I wanted to bridge because there's always been kind of an understanding that Jewish was very different than Catholic. So I sat down trying to find the commonality and honoring both where she you know, what their understanding was at 5 years old her understanding and my understanding at 5 years old and feeling so connected to her being a little girl like myself, but with such a different understanding that I had and her mother came back and complimented my mom on my Approach and attempt to connect with her daughter.

03:53 And see the differences but also see the likenesses and then I can remember at age six or seven when Michael Jackson was six or seven and he was singing a lot of songs related to love and I can remember being told frequently that African-Americans, you know, where made to look like or be less than Caucasians and that was nominally painful for me.

04:32 I just couldn't I never could fit that in it was like trying to fit, you know a square peg into a round hole. It just didn't fit it was like how could that possibly be there human beings and so I grew up with this love for listening to Michael Jackson. And then also just this understanding that somehow I related to the message that he was communicating as a child and it was almost like that was the safe place. I could go in the understanding and the connection to an African-American community.

05:20 And that was when I was 6 7 years old and then when I became 13 years old my I was kind of disillusioned with this style of

05:42 Interaction in high school that people had I I found everything to be fairly superficial.

05:52 Relatively conservative. I didn't really understand again. The racial situation came up African Americans were not allowed to try out for the cheerleading team. And then there were that when they tried to loosen that a little bit they said that the African-American Community could only try out if they had an we're on the a honor roll.

06:24 And I had been trying out for cheerleading and when that began I became very upset at

06:37 How inappropriate it was to expect a child whose parents never attended oftentimes high school or college and to hold them to a standard.

06:54 Of Education that

06:58 The Caucasian children that were at that time most of their parents had gone through high school and college. So when they got off the bus they had someone to help them with their homework.

07:13 Someone who would be there to take care of and help with the education and so I began.

07:25 Voicing my opinion and there were extreme racial riots at the time in my high school. They became horrible based on the credentials that they were saying people could try out for sports or not in the African American Community was being kept out of the sports arena of my high school. So I went through school.

07:55 You know.

07:58 Struggling with humanity and looking for something a bit more real than what was kind of being presented before me. So I happened to be walking down the street one day and met an African. I'm sorry a Native American girl who was about my age and she was coming back from Baskin-Robbins where she was working which happened to be the big hot ice cream store of the time Baskin-Robbins had just come out and or come to Ash Pub to Fort Lauderdale. So she and I began talking and I told her that I was really looking for real people people who were real who weren't superficial and

08:56 Seeing life based on status and money and she said that was her so we became very good friends.

09:08 And she was also struggling to reconnect. She was from the Mohawk reservation up in Upstate New York called aqua Saucony note at Aqua Saucony reservation, and there was a newspaper in the 70s.

09:30 That came out called aqua Saucony notes and that newspaper was kind of going out so that people could begin to see some of the struggles that the Native Americans in the early 70s were having there was a lot of controversy in Upstate New York that to Mohawk reservations.

09:57 Conewago which was on the Canadian side and aqua Saucony which is up above Massena New York and just below

10:12 Canada

10:13 There was a port and it separated the two reservations and that part was highly desired by the United States and it was pushing the Native Americans more and more at that time and band numbers were coming out where there in order for Native Americans to get assistance. They had to be or any benefits off the reservation. They had to receive a band number and so there was a lot of controversy between the traditional Native Americans who accepted their rights as Native Americans based on the fact that they were and then this government coming in and saying well we have to have a band number which would give us percentages of Native American blood vs.

11:13 Not and that would change from reservation to reservation because in one reservation the father was the whole thing identity.

11:30 For that lineage on the aqua Saucony reservation on the on a dog a reservation, which was right outside of Syracuse New York their lineage. I believe was the mother.

11:44 And I may have them reverse but the mother's bloodline would follow the child. So there's all this controversy over things going on and I became very

12:00 Intrigued by the Native American perspective and went to live after high school went to live on the aqua Saucony reservation and my friend Ronnie Francisco who was from that reservation.

12:25 And her mother who was Mohawk and from that reservations Eleanor Francisco lived in Dewitt Syracuse, so I kind of based with them because they were my friends and that's where I was and then I went and stayed on the reservation and Ronnie had to go back to school. So I stayed on the reservation and began to work for aqua Saucony notes.

12:52 And had just a little bit of interaction with a group that was starting out of the college's called White roots of peace.

13:03 And the white roots of Peace was bringing what the Mohawks call the Great Law.

13:12 To understanding what the Great Law was which was the six Iroquois Nations coming together.

13:28 And the way that that was indicated was the White Pine.

13:38 Tree

13:40 I was correcting and they would bury their War clubs underneath the White Pine and the white pines Roots would cover the war clubs and they put an eagle on top of the White Pine and that eagle would travel to the six Iroquois Nations to keep the peace.

14:04 And that's so a college group was kind of abrupt ending at that time to start traveling and teaching about your koala and true democracy. We learned from the Iroquois and it was really fascinating at working in an underground newspaper or the FBI. I would be across the street and I was about 17 or 18 years old. I did two different times that I went up there and stay for a. Of time.

14:41 So it began kind of early on that. I looked for commonality between us and

14:53 As far as moving into more of the element of death and dying I had a very early experience. I was 2 years old and on the chest of my grandfather when he died and felt very connected to him and identified with him as I aged. And in fact, I would always be told you know, God is watching and if you don't do this, right, you know God knows and you'll be in trouble and somehow because that seems so ominous and I believed that my grandfather was with God.

15:42 In my perspective at that time and so because of that I was always more my grandfather. I was concerned about disappointing or not.

15:56 Well behaved or you know doing something like telling a liar and somehow.

16:07 I remained in a very close connected state.

16:12 With him, whether it was through my mind or through the energy, I never feel like I wanted to find all of that but I felt like I always remained very very close to him. So my association with dying was very

16:37 Feeling like there was a you know, and I wouldn't have described it at as I was growing up as a finevale.

16:48 But because of feeling like I was having a relationship with someone on the other side, it made me see dying. Not as

16:59 Devastational

17:01 To the dying person as the world.

17:07 Made it look

17:09 And I somehow

17:14 Accepted a very

17:21 An acceptance of dying that may look different have looked different to a lot of humanity or the people that were around me. It didn't negate the importance of it.

17:37 But it certainly

17:43 Allowed for it in a different in a different way. So

17:51 And it created with it an incredible vulnerability.

17:58 An incredible respect for life.

18:03 That

18:06 The smallest of Life insects

18:14 Grass trees animals

18:18 The value of what each element of divine expression or creation?

18:30 Unfolds into this existence and there was some recognition of the wholeness.

18:38 And that was in each one of those.

18:42 Expressions and I could remember the little girl watching a little boy pick up a rock and killing a lizard and just mortified by that possibility and disrespect for existence or life. So as time went on having golf this deep understanding of birth and death or creation and death. I began seeking.

19:21 A venue where I could be effective and chose first Lake Midwifery.

19:31 And was attending birth and I had a set of twins myself and I was attending verse to women for women both here in Western North Carolina, and I had done a little bit of two births that I attended in, Fort, Lauderdale, Florida.

19:54 And I started deciding that it wasn't worth taking the risk because it was illegal to do lay Midwifery and I was nursing two twins and they were two and a half.

20:07 And I thought I'm going to go to jail. I better go to school. So I enrolled in nursing school and just as I enrolled in nursing school.

20:20 My father committed suicide and so now I was faced with this other element death at the same time as just having come from so much birth, and I stopped the Ellen LPN program and was present to deal with my father's death and then went back into the RN program and I remember during the time that we had to go around the room and the teacher asked and I was like 29 maybe at this time almost approaching 30, and I remember when the teacher went around the room and said, can you please tell me what how you feel about death and dying and being there somebody was dying and as she went around the room

21:16 You know people were talking about being scared and

21:22 Wanting to help concerned and wanting to help and she came to me and all I could feel that washed so fully over me was the sense of gratitude and honor that the Divine would place that trust in me to presents there and the fact that as a nurse I was going to have that opportunity.

21:54 And so that was the start of it and where I could actually put into practice and I worked first out of nursing school in cardiovascular intensive care and then went to work. I'm sorry and cardiac intensive care and then went to work in cardiovascular intensive care. And as I watched the way people died where there was total non-acceptance of the dying process for the most part. We were just starting bioethics committee. They had not started yet. I remember the doctor talking about a bioethics committee and we were all enamored at the word.

22:41 And dnr's were just coming in to play doctors were very testy about do not resuscitate orders some doctors refuse to honor do not resuscitate orders, cuz they felt like their patients would not get the kind of hair.

23:08 That they would have deserved if they gave them a do not resuscitate order and I remember trying to educate some doctors even in cardiac intensive care to say in my case. That would be quite the opposite that certainly with the understanding that somebody was making a choice to not be resuscitated that their family and that patient should be more respected and more cared for and that there should be more emotional.

23:47 Present thing at that time because people were being coded and family members were being whisked out of the room people were subject to constant Medical.

24:06 You know, you've got a lot of young nurses lot of young doctors a heightened fear of failure. And so somebody would go bad their heart would go bad or they wouldn't do well after surgery and then you got all these things that are playing off in this room and the person dying with having no,

24:33 There was no respect for the emotional component or the emotional need or

24:41 What was really happening? It was all you know, what was happening with the

24:47 Who is cracking the test and who was doing the paddles and who was running the dopamine and who was you know, and it just was painful to feel.

25:03 The person leaving their form

25:09 And I had a sense of that as they would leave their form.

25:15 And the trauma that was centered around that and I remember thinking my god. There has to be a better than this. There's another

25:28 Wait, just like with birth. There's another way where this could be focused and honored and respected and it was at that time that I realized I needed to go to hospital.

25:41 And it just so happened that as I was one night. I was actually

25:52 Taken into neuro trauma and I got stuck with a needle from a possible HIV person and it turned out the guy did have HIV and I was faced with my own mortality and at the same time my grandmother died and so I had to not even be able to give my full two weeks notice notice to the hospital. I had to go at 10 my grandmother's death and was dealing with my own mortality with the unknown with the HIV. So it was a great segue into working with hospice and I really feel like

26:38 Having the opportunity to be around death and dying on a daily basis people say to me repeatedly. Oh that must be so depressing and I have to say oh no.

26:56 It's so rewarding because when we're given 6 months or less to live or we're faced with our own mortality.

27:07 We immediately begin to generally.

27:16 Perceive how precious our breath is how precious life is how precious family is how precious our connection to our divine? However, we call that and some people might be an earth-centered perspective. Some people might be in, you know religious perspectives, but there's kind of a a and a sense of realism that begins to take hold.

27:48 And to be in the presence of that.

27:51 As opposed to the presence of frequent superficiality that we have learned to adopt.

28:02 In our existence is

28:07 In an Incredible Gift, it's just I can never thank

28:12 The Divine enough for the source enough for having allowed me time spent in the presence of that understanding and there's so many other things that are going on with pain and suffering in families in with the patients, but that still comes forward not only for the patients but often for family members.

28:44 All of a sudden the fact that my husband was working all his life and he didn't get a chance to be here and I was raising the kids and you know, The Angst was stuff like that. It starts to go away and what time we have left we want to love, you know, or we want to care for in the best way that we can and it's almost like everything we would have been should have been could have been begins to subside and what we are and they attempt to just love and care for

29:20 Are dying or are who we love and for some families that's more difficult than for others.

29:30 Certainly, our own mortality gets brought up frequently when were interacting with

29:40 You know others that are dying our fears our own fears of disease and what not and it was amazing to work with that intimacy.

29:52 Usually on a daily basis and then go home to twin girls who were just kind of like, you know struggling to start to identify.

30:07 Those more real things in life and wanting to sometimes inebriated or numb some of the other things and I think more than anything the question I often have for my daughter my daughter's and also for myself. What are the Avenues we used to numb ourselves from feeling?

30:33 Sometimes that's needed because we're so empathetic and sometimes and sometimes.

30:42 It's an avoidance.

30:49 So I do just say first of all, thank you to story Corp for this opportunity and I see great stride ahead despite where I see medicine in 2015 kind of going in terms of pharmaceutical send.

31:19 Those medical procedures that are all supported by money. I do see also again and Grassroots understanding coming forward and hopefully greater support for hospice and more people choosing to die at home families honoring that differently than have been done in the past certainly economy plays a lot into that and but

31:58 I'm hopeful.

32:02 That in the future more and more people will be able to honor their death.

32:09 By making their choices by surrounding themselves in the things that most Comfort them.

32:19 And

32:26 I believe it with all my heart. I do believe that more and more that will be supported and I'm hoping that Medicare and and other government agencies will see the value for a greater support of those families. Am I think it's an irony that we give people three days after a death generally to deal with loss of a loved one. That's just you know, somebody

33:07 We're now opening up across the world to recognizing and some even I just heard I think it was Netflix is now offering.

33:19 Unlimited paying time for newly maybe a year off. I think it was for new mothers to tend to their newborns and their children and I believe that

33:40 As daddy balls will also come to the other side of recognizing the need of those that care for the dying because Caregivers for the dying are with our are not being able to be Breadwinners or not being able to work and their their finances are being greatly compromised right at the time when they also are getting close to their retirement and don't have many earning years and somehow that needs to be supported.

34:21 Because those people that are choosing consciously to care give their dying family members.

34:30 And are saving overall money for the government should somehow there should be some support.

34:43 So