Description: Breathe


Suppose you had to remind someone you love to breathe, because they had given up on breathing and you were reluctant to let them stop.

Everyone experiences the death of a beloved family member or close friend. Whether it is a long bitter process or a sudden death, the loss is profound. Do we cling to life tenaciously, or are we willing to let go?

In her book, “Breath,” author and nutrition support coordinator for critical care patients, Anne Bland describes her own journey of “letting go” with the death of her mother.

Although she witnessed many families clinging to the life of a terminally ill loved one, she too, demanded the highest level of care for her mother.

But when her mother came to that point, Bland recognized her mother’s pull toward the life beyond.

She understood her mother’s desire to leave, in spite of treatments and interventions that might extend her life.

Relatives who say, “Do everything” may believe”… that the patient will survive and come home in the same state he/she was in prior to the illness.”

However “do everything” sometimes can mean, “I love my relative and I want to keep them here with me. And I do not realize what the body and mind may have to endure, I can’t let them go,” Bland writes.

Woven throughout “Breathe” are scenes of the rich heritage of the author’s mother including her North Carolina roots and mountain values.

Anne’s mother grew up in the Hughes community of Avery County, descended from early 18th century settlers.

She married a soldier and left the mountains, but with family ties in North Caroline, the mountain ethic was strong and close to her heart.

Bland learned through the process of her mother’s passing that death is a natural process and, if not welcomed by loved ones, at least is to be accepted. Such core value escapes the frenzied quest to conquer death at all costs.

In working through the process of letting go, the author chronicles the stories of a grandmother and a great grandmother, as well as her father and others, who impacted her life. The book includes family photographs and several poems written by her great grandmother.

If readers of “Breathe” expect a straight forward story, they might see the book as disjointed; however, Bland uses the varied stories, thoughts, incidents, and relationships to work through her own process of letting go. The book should be read with that in mind, to stimulate the reader in his or her own course of dealing with bereavement.

Bland has seen an impact of “Breathe” on families of terminally ill patients as they dealt with the death of a loved one, helping the family to “bring it all together at the end.”

Instead, the focus is shifted from the family to the individual, making the process easier for all. It results in the celebration of the individual’s life before and after they pass, rather than a helpless, disjointed, grieving process for the family members.

“Breathe” though example brings a new perspective on living, loving, and letting go gracefully, rather than a bitter, grieving process with so many unresolved issues and emotions,” Bland says.

Reading “Breathe” before illness strikes and the medical crisis arises, opens the door for the family to discuss important concepts,

One result of the book for the author was involvement with Millennium Development Goals, a United Nations initiative to end world poverty by 2015. She advises her grieving readers to “get concerned” about the suffering of others.


About the Author

Anne Bland, pen name for Denise Baird Schwartz, health care professional, is a North Carolina native. Denise considers the Blue Ridge Mountains her home, despite having lived in other parts of the world. She grew up with strong family bonds and the importance of faith. She and her husband of 38 years have a daughter graduating college and two stepchildren with families of their own.

With nearly 40 years of experience as a health care professional, specializing in feeding critically ill patients through tubes, her goal now includes opening up communication in families for a joyous, peaceful goodbye and honoring the individual’s wishes.

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