Leaving a legacy: Dignity Therapy can help document your life.

Posted at: 06/05/2014 3:05 PM
Updated at: 06/06/2014 8:47 AM
By: Benita Zahn

What would you want your family and friends to know about you when you're gone?

Are there things you've accomplished you'd like to share?

These are the type of questions you answer when completing a legacy document.

It's part of a program called Dignity Therapy which got its start in Canada.

Mountain Valley Hospice in Gloversville is one of only two sites in New York, offering the program.

NewsChannel 13 took a trip out there to learn about it.

"I am not afraid to die, but I am in not in a hurry," says 96 year old Dominic Papa. So while he's on this earth, Papa agreed to share his life story - part of a program called Dignity Therapy offered by Mountain View Hospice. The end result is a book about his life.

"When I was a young man playing in a band" he tells me. "What instrument did you play?" I ask. "Guitar" he tells me, until he married.

One of the many grace notes on a life that includes three children - seven grandchildren and nine great grands.

From businessman to celebrated bridge player .. Dominic is now blind and sidelined by congestive heart failure - but, that doesn't define his him, which is a key to Dignity Therapy.

"In these final days, getting a sense, restoring the sense of meaning and purpose in one's life", is how Rod Correll describes the heart of this project. Correll is a board member at Mountain View Hospice and one of 5 people trained in asking the questions which are recorded, transcribed, reviewed and then the book is created. A project, perfect for his dad, says Dominic's son, John.

"And he's proud and he's, he wants his family to know the life lessons and the stories about the family" says John.  

And that a non-family member asks the questions a bonus, says John - applauding the unbiased eye.

"This bundles it all up and puts it in a document that no one will ever take away from us. That we can look at any time we want that we can share with other people."

A sort of therapy for the soul... Helping the patient and family come to grips with end of life.

"When you started answering the questions, did it bring back a lot of memories?"  I ask Dominic - his reply  "Oh my God,  I could have gone on forever."

For more info on this project which is free and open to the public go to www.mvhcares.org or call Mohawk Valley Hospice at 725-4545.