February 20, 2018
Moore Mission Moments - The Watershed Group


by Patti Moore


August 27, 1948 - February 4, 2012

"I think hospice is the greatest single honor that has ever occurred in my life. To have the opportunity to be a part of building something that makes such a difference to society. And I think what is really important is that hospice is a dream that’s come true, and a dream that’s grown beyond all of our expectations.

            In terms of values, it’s a dream that didn’t come out of academia, it didn’t come out of research, it didn’t come out of organized medicine. It was the dream of people themselves that had lost a loved one and simply wanted to reach out and see if they could make that path different for others. And it was above all about human dignity, no matter how long life was.

            And I think it has grown so much not because we were smart in building it, but because we had the capacity to listen to what our patients and communities needed and to build that for them."   Mary J. Labyak, CEO, SUNCOAST HOSPICE


Mary Labyak died 6 years ago this month. Click HERE to see the interview I did with her  in 2011.


Mary took charge of this social movement called hospice and lived her life boldly, giving herself fully to her cause, embracing the unknown and giving voice to those without one.  She spoke for those whose path in life was shortened and often fraught with pain.  She gave voice to those who wanted to say, “Stop!” and to those who wanted to say “Bring it on” in terms of treatments for their life- threatening illnesses.  She gave voice to the average person, who worked, kept house, fed and nurtured children, paid bills, grocery shopped and accomplished all those things we do automatically…while caring for a gravely ill partner, or child or parent or friend. 

            She gave voice to the voiceless and honored every single one of them with dignity and grace, regardless of their station in life, or understanding or acceptance of their ultimate demise.  Mary understood clearly that dying people - human beings - should not be categorized into a diagnosis or a job title or a class; she saw each person as part of this great family of man (and woman).  She knew if we paid attention to physical ailments alone, we would only know them as if by a number. 

She also knew that unless we helped to relieve physical pain, the other parts of life could not be tended to. 

            Mary wanted to know what people loved, what music made them smile, what brought laughter to their lips, what fun consisted of, what dreams they dreamed in the quiet moments of life.   She was concerned about all those normal things in life that get lost for people in their struggle at the end of life.   For Mary, Hospice was never about simply health care.  It was human being care, friendship… indeed, it was love.

            The genius of Mary was that she inspired us to want to know these things as well.


Her engagement of her community was miraculous, but she knew that unless it was people taking care of their neighbors, supporting and lending helping hands, hospice would be simply health care.  People helping each other in times of need…standing beside another, not in front or behind, but next to a fellow human on their final journey, providing strength, encouragement, wisdom, and comfort. 

                        Mary was a person of strength for me and so many others.  She was our hospice worker: offering guidance on our path, wisdom and courage to keep moving forward, and strength when the future was uncertain.  She showed us the way with her light.  She gave us her all; her grace, her goodness, her balance and fairness, her wisdom from her larger perspective.  She embodied the cause she helped to create. 

            It is now our job to remember who we are, what our cause is and what we stand for.  Her memory continues to show us the way.  What a great privilege to have been her friend.


Mary Labyak at the NHPCO Gala 2009




How do you tell someone they’re dying? How do you tell their family? Surprisingly doctors still struggle with sharing the hard truth with patients:

            “A cardiologist reported the patient’s heart was fine. An oncologist announced that the substance infiltrating her lungs was not cancer. An infectious-disease doctor assured the family, “We’ve got her on the right antibiotic.”

            With each doctor’s report, Black recalled, most of her family “felt this tremendous sense of relief.”

            But Black, a doctor herself, knew the physicians were avoiding the truth: “She’s 100 percent dying.”

            “It became my role,” Black said, to tell her family the difficult news that her mother-in-law, who was in her mid-80s, was not going to make it out of the hospital alive. Indeed, she died there within about a week.”


Many of us have been there – but even when you’re prepared for the death of a parent, it’s traumatic.

            “The death of a parent can send shock waves through your self-perception and reposition the mental space you occupy on the planet. The grief can be life changing. We asked experts to share their insights and experiences, as well as advice on managing the pain, and how to emerge enlightened during this challenging time.”


A study looks at the wisdom of the dying – and reminds us that we continue to grow, learn and become wiser right up until we leave this life.


            “Now, wisdom is being aware of my surroundings, trying to read the people that I meet, and trying to appreciate my day and look for the gifts. Look for the positive instead of the negative, I would say," said one patient.

            "I want them to remember me with a smile, laughing and giggling and doing some of the silly things we do," said another patient. "You know, it is fun. Why do you want to leave on a sad note? I do not want to be remembered being sad."


Gardens, a balm for the soul – and a wonderful gift to Hospice of the Chesapeake:   “Landscape architect Richard Sweeney's vision, in designing the gardens for the Hospice of the Chesapeake's new campus, was to provide a natural setting that is uplifting for families dealing with grief.

            He executed his vision admirably, first establishing the plantings surrounding the building that is home to the hospice's Chesapeake Life Center. Owner of Richard M. Sweeney Landscape Architecture in Arnold, the designer donated his services to the hospice as a thank you for helping his family through a dark time. “


Giving more than you take: Tidewell Hospice in the news for their hugely successful Signature Luncheon:

            “Nearly 800 guests packed the Ritz-Carlton Ballroom for this year’s Tidewell Hospice Signature Luncheon, featuring ESPN sportscaster Will Reeve, son of Christopher and Dana Reeve.


What’s your hospice doing to create alliances and awareness in your community? I’d love to hear about it!  Send your stories, press releases, and announcements to: [email protected]



The third High Performance Habit is COURAGE.  I think this HP Habit is particularly important for those who are working in hospice. How often have we had to have the courageous conversations with people at the end of their life? We are not taught these things in nursing school or even medical school. And yet what people need most are care-providers who have the courage to speak the truth, honestly and compassionately about what their future holds.


The world’s highest performers act courageously in facing challenges and reaching for their dreams.


My question to you today is: 


“If you had even more courage, what would stop doing right now or...what would you start doing?”


To learn more about my VIP High Performance Group Coaching program click HERE!

Pause, and enjoy the sunset, from the RiverCove Retreat Center
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