We are a Contemplative Community
Dedicated to helping people at end-of-life
who don't have a place to live
or who need someone to care for them.
Seventy years ago we cared for our dying at home. We learned what do and how to be around dying from family and friends.
As times have changed it seems the science of keeping people alive has become more important than honoring the inevitable outcome. 80% of us want to die at home. 20% of us do. Dying has become medicalized in our culture, mostly seen as something to avoid rather than a natural part of life.
ABODE is different. We know what can happen when dying is embraced - the pain, the fear, the joy, the longing, the relief. All of it.
We don't take blood pressures or check pulses. There are no IVs or feeding tubes to manage. There are no scheduled activities, therapies, or required conversations.
Some Guests want to talk about dying - what is happening, what will happen. Some do not. Quite simply, we meet our Guests and families where they are and invite them to feel into what they need and want. We are here to hold space, stand witness, and offer support as we can.
A nurse of forty plus years was at ABODE in October 2017, helping her friend, Beki, in her last week of life. The nurse said:
I've been doing this work a long time. I've learned more about dying from all of you than I learned in all my years of nursing. This is an extraodinary place.
Because we only care for three guests at a time, and we do it 24/7, we have honed a sixth sense about nuanced changes, needs, questions to ask, when to engage, when to pull back, and when to simply be present - because sometimes the most helpful thing we can do is simply be.
We follow our Guest's lead as we do our best to live into the mission, vision, and values of ABODE.
We help our Guests' families understand the physical, mental, emotional and spiritual aspects of dying.
As questions arise, we may teach about the trajectory of dying - the sights, sounds, behaviors, and special language the dying often use as their body is separating from their spirit.
We may gently coach families when they want their person to eat and their person's body is shutting down, no longer requiring food.
When someone is dying and children are involved, and adults don't know what to say or how to say it, we help them find a way. With permission from parents, we create age appropriate, gentle opportunities for children to be a part of the process.
We create rituals, specific to the moment, specific to the individuals and families involved, to help mark the sacred moments unfolding.
We are in no hurry as we help the family begin to say good-bye. ABODE is a safe and sacred container for grief.
We offer family members an opportunity to bathe their beloved using a special basin of water prepared with essential oils and often flower petals. This is a tender, meaningful ritual we are honored to help with or to invite the family to do on their own.
We take time to honor the person who has died, their time on earth, their legacy, and to thank them for teaching us how to better care for the ones who will come after them at ABODE.
A rock with the Guest's name is placed in the blue bowl in our backyard, honoring the change that has happened within our walls.
We often have a flower ceremony or a crossroads ceremony - honoring, remembering, acknowledging, and grieving together.
What We've Achieved
- At no cost to our Guests or families, cared for 92 people and their families since December 2014
- Built and paid for our home
- Trained 70+ volunteers
- Worked with 20 hospices and hospitals in San Antonio and New Braunfels
- Averaged 500 visitors a month in our home on Post Oak
- Care for 34 veterans