Dear Karuna Friend,
Let me introduce you to Cory Taylor and share her story with you. Cory is an author, a wife, a mother and is dying. She has lived all over the world until finally settling with her family in Montague Road, West End where she and her Japanese husband have opened the beautiful ceramics and antiques ‘Gallery Shin’. With the umbrella of Karuna care, Cory says she feels she has time to concentrate on ‘this thing called dying.’ Cory has written about her experience with Karuna and I share her words with you below.
With heartfelt thanks,
Elisabeth Roberts | CEO
Living Well and Dying Peacefully
Words by Cory Taylor
I often think how different my life would be if I didn’t have a terminal illness. I’d be making plans, travelling, starting new writing projects, imagining that I had unlimited time to do everything I want to do. And all the time I’d be pushing away the thought of death, as healthy people can, imagining it is something that happens to other people.
When you have a mortal illness this way of thinking is no longer very useful. You have to recalibrate. You have to adjust to the knowledge that your time is limited. In my experience this means choosing whether or not to accept dying as a fact of life, the price we pay for the amazing gift of living. I often tell people how relieved I was when my treatment options ran out and I could stop pretending there was a cure for my disease. This was the point at which I knew for sure my life was ending. It was also the point at which I found Karuna.
At first I was simply grateful to have found people I could talk to about dying well. One’s biggest fear of course is pain, so I was reassured by my conversations with the nurses at Karuna about pain relief, and about all of the other medical issues that might lie ahead of me. I was also relieved to hear that Karuna was committed to keeping me at home, visiting me at home, assisting me and my family to live a normal life for as long as possible, and, ideally, making it possible for me to die at home.
Then, as my knowledge of Karuna deepened, I realised that a deeper philosophy was at work in the organization,
that it was not just a question of caring for me as a patient, it was a commitment to honouring my life as a whole, as well as the lives of those I love. One of the best illustrations of this commitment is Karuna’s biography programme.
Every Wednesday for over three months I met with a trained volunteer biographer, Susan Addison. Susan would record me telling the story of my life. She would guide me in the telling by asking thoughtful questions. She would then go home and transcribe her recordings so that eventually they could be compiled into a printed document, complete with photographs. The biography is there now, for my family to have after I’m gone. It is a great comfort to me to know that they have this record of my tale, but beyond that, it was a true blessing to be listened to for all those weeks, with such respect and attentiveness.
There are many other ways in which Karuna has helped me to live well in these past few months. I have met with Karuna volunteers, of all kinds; all of them committed to assisting me, both practically and spiritually, to be the person I am right to the end. Without Karuna, I would not have been able to write my third book, a memoir about dying, due for release in May. The fact that I was able to concentrate and work on the book, free of anxiety and despair, is a testament to the power of the Karuna philosophy, which is to embrace mortality as a means of celebrating life.
Please help to make sure that others can receive the precious care that my family is receiving by contributing to this tax appeal.