We remember…

George and Harry head off to war, pictured here with sister Janet. Both made it back from war.

George and Harry Gilbert as they head off to war, pictured here with sister Janet. Both made it back.

Clayton Gilbert, 1941

Clayton Gilbert, 1941

As Remembrance Day approaches, I reflect, in particular, on those who fought in wars to provide us with the freedoms we enjoy today. Ann-Marie, Ted and I cherish those in our families who participated in WW I and II. We are grateful that they returned home, and because they came home, that we have life.

I think of my grandfather, Harold Andrew Lees, and his experience in WW I. Near the beginning of the war he was shot, lost his eye, and was then in a German prisoner of war camp. I hear that they treated him well. We still have his warm wool blanket. I remember as a child, he would tell me it was time for me to have a nap, he would then remove his eye, put it in a glass jar, and tell me that he was watching me to make sure that I slept. It is one of my earliest memories – it surely did stick with me!

1st Radar Equipped Aircraft, Year of "Hess" 1941

Patrick Gilbert, (in aircraft) with the first radar-equipped aircraft, Preswick, Year of “Hess” 1941



Major G.H. Gilbert, MC, MM, VD, circa 1921

Major G.H. Gilbert, MC, MM, VD, circa 1921

Roland and Bob Gilbert, with family friend in military

Roland and Bob Gilbert, with family friend in military

A few weeks ago, Ted and I had the privilege to be invited to attend the ELNEC 20th Anniversary Summit in Hawaii. Following the conference we had a few days on the island of Oahu. On the last afternoon, toured by Jeannie White, we visited the War Veterans Memorial in Honolulu. We visited the columbarium that holds the ashes of her father. It was exactly 103 years since his birth. I gave thanks to him, for his daughter Punky, I pondered her life growing up in Hawaii, our meeting as young adults, and all that she has meant to me and to us.

As Remembrance Day approaches, I cringe to think how many soldiers hid their memories, tried to hide their terrors, and carried scars through to their deaths. I think of those we know who live with their scars and suffer with PTSD. In their suffering, they surely do not enjoy the same freedoms that I enjoy.

As Remembrance Day approaches, I am aware that the freedoms that I enjoy, are not experienced by all in North America and certainly are not experienced by many people around the world. I wonder what I can do, or what I can stop doing, to help others enjoy greater freedom. I ponder and pray that we can protect or gain freedom without war and violence. And I wonder if this is possible.

As Remembrance Day approaches, I think of you, and wonder what you will be pondering, what you will hope for and what might you pray for.

With kindness


[Photos from Ann-Marie’s family archive]

Don’t go whistling past the digital graveyard!

Written by Angela Bruce, RN

Thanks to Kaylee for directing us to a blog post that reminds us how important it is to get our digital house in order.  On August 10, 2019 she provided the link to this comprehensive guide containing current advice and instructions on how to plan for your digital legacy and your assets after you die. The author of the blog states,

With hundreds of millions of social media users, the number of social media accounts of dead people may outnumber those of the living in a few decades. 

But as you consider the eternal limbo of those accounts remember this cold, hard fact: In this digital age, your loved ones will be faced with the complexities of managing your digital assets after you die.

Accessing digital devices like computers, hard drives, tablets, and phones, may be impossible if your loved ones don’t have passwords or encryption keys. Not only may they lose irreplaceable photos, important letters and documents, there are financial assets that may be forever lost.

These monetary assets go far beyond your bank account. For example, Bond Brand Loyalty estimates there are currently $16 billion dollars in unredeemed loyalty points in Canada alone, and many of those dollars will never be redeemed if the owner has died with no arrangement to transfer ownership of the points. According to a report in the Globe and Mail, by the end of 2020, the average Canadian will have accumulated $10,000 worth of digital assets, including money stored in online payment accounts, loyalty program rewards, virtual currencies and online investment or bank accounts.[1]  Keeping track of your digital presence is a sound, personal, and economic practice.

Digital assets to consider when making an inventory of  your online presence include:

Financial Access

  • Bank accounts
  • Online payment accounts (such as PayPal)
  • Online seller accounts (like Amazon™ or eBay®)
  • Brokerage accounts
  • Cryptocurrency investments


  • Email accounts
  • Social media accounts
  • Forums or chat rooms
  • Blogs or websites you own
  • Online gaming accounts

Cloud Storage

  • OneDrive; Dropbox, GoogleDrive etc
  • Digital photos, videos and music files
  • E-books or audio books

Loyalty/Rewards Programs

  • Credit card loyalty program rewards
  • Travel rewards programs (such as Air Miles)
  • Retailer loyalty programs


  • Logos, illustrations, artwork or animations you own
  • Digital copyrights, trademarks or patents[2]

Adding to the confusion, there is a wide diversity in policies for dealing with the death of platform members.  Legislation on digital death has not kept up with the rapid pace of technological advancement.  Worldwide, there is a lack of established laws and this has allowed companies to choose their own rules.  Social media platforms have a patchwork of ways for dealing with a member’s death.  Customer loyalty programs may not be transferable. Purchased digital media assets, such as iTunes or eBooks, cannot be transferred.

Three decades ago, there was no such thing as planning for your digital death. Now it is increasingly seen as a task that is essential to ease the work of our loved ones after our death, allowing access to funds to pay bills, cover other expenses, and to manage or close accounts. Think of it as advance care planning for your digital life. Tackling this chore will save many hours of stress and heartache for your loved ones and potentially save priceless memories, assets, and facets of your life from being irretrievably lost in the cold vacuum of cyberspace.

Have you had any experiences dealing with digital death? Please share your story in the comments section!

Warm regards,

Angela Bruce

Looking for more information on this subject.

Death and Digital Property: What happens to your online life when you die?

 March 29, 2015 by Kath Murray

Creating a Digital Estate

April 5, 2015 by Kath Murray


[1] https://www.theglobeandmail.com/investing/globe-wealth/article-dont-forget-about-digital-assets-in-your-estate-plan/

[2] https://www.cibc.com/en/personal-banking/advice-centre/family-finances/estate-planning-for-digital-assets.html


Thanks to Michelle and Reena for this posting….
Earlier this year, we (Michelle and Reena) both spent time actively being with the fact that we’re going to die and we don’t know when; could be tomorrow, could be next week, or 37 years from now. It changed our lives.
We each wrote a Heart Will to be read at our end-of-life rituals, and Love Letters to our respective school-aged daughters to have when we die. The impact on us continues to be profound. Reena finds herself gushing with acknowledgements and expressions of gratitude to people around her and about everyday events, not something she ever did with abundance before. As a result she finds life to be so much brighter and lighter!
When writing her love letter to her daughter, Michelle asked herself, “What have I learned in my 48 years that will help this 10-year-old girl navigate her life, no matter what age she is when I die?” This process of letter writing helped Michelle uncover and crystallize one of her core truths; a truth that now calls her to account every day:
“I am my own best friend and my own worst enemy. It’s my relationship with myself not with anyone else that needs attention, tenderness and care.”
We launched WILLOW last spring with the radical goal of transforming the often-fragmented process of what is usually called “advanced planning” into a rich opportunity for personal growth and transformation. We want people to use that opportunity of getting clear and communicating their pragmatic and prosaic wishes about all matters ‘end of life’ — health and personal care, financial and legal matters, deathcare and funerals, legacy and remembering — to make a difference to the richness of their lives now no matter their age or state of health.
We’re all going to die, and we don’t know when. If you’ve experienced the death of someone close to you, then alongside your sorrow, or perhaps even your relief, you may have felt a force to renew or change something in your life. People in their dying days often speak of experiencing enormous growth and transformation while contemplating death. If death can provide this, so too can the conscious contemplation of your mortality. Let’s make our mortality work for us.
Your mortality is an opportunity in disguise.
At WILLOW, our core desire is to inspire personal reflection and action that will touch, move and inspire you, or make you stop and wonder, and perhaps even reconsider. To support you to reflect on your life and create lasting messages for those you love, we designed a weekly workshop series that will inspire you to live fully now.
LOVE LETTERS + HEART WILLS will be offered in Vancouver this WINTER (Jan 26 start) and SPRING (Mar 15 start).
In a thoughtful and dynamic group process we co-facilitate a small group process in which you will:
Uncover the source of your feelings about your inevitable death.
Reflect on your life and how you want to be remembered.
Write a Heart Will and at least one Love Letter to capture your wisdom, wishes and special messages to be shared at or before the time of your death.
“LOVE LETTERS + HEART WILLS was ground-breaking, transformative and essentials reflections for the soul.” – Helena Cynamon
With extensive training in deathcare—Michelle as a funeral director and hospice volunteer and Reena in all aspects of family and community-led deathcare —Reena and Michelle share a passion for using the conversation around death as a pathway to growth and healing for individuals, communities and the planet.

With every cell in our bodies, we believe that contemplating your inevitable and unpredictable death can actually light up and enrich your life now. To dive deeper into this area of personal reflection and discovery, we invite you to:

  • Forward this post to someone you know who loves to explore who and what matters most.
  • Forward this post to someone you know who loves to explore who and what matters most.
Michelle and Reena
Michelle Pante <michelle@willoweol.com>

New Award for a Compassionate Community Caregiver –

I am deeeelighted to announce, the new: Frances Montgomery Compassionate Communities Caregiver Award


(Photo of Frankie and myself in Times Square in New York City a few years ago)

Created and Sponsored by Life and Death Matters

The Award

This award celebrates the immense contributions of the social community in caring for people at end-of-life and acknowledges that care of the sick and the dying is “everyone’s responsibility”.  This award acknowledges the invaluable contribution of community members who provide care and support for people throughout the living-dying and bereavement process. It is presented to an individual who is a dedicated “compassionate community caregiver”. It is hoped that the award will be used to help the individual access education or educational resources to increase their care competencies. (This award is for someone who lives in British Columbia.)

The Inspiration for the Award

The award is inspired by Frances Montgomery, an extraordinary compassionate community caregiver. Frankie, a retired nurse, has cared for her parents, in-laws, husband, extended family, friends and community members for over six decades. At 88 years of age, she continues to respond to and provide care for friends and those in her neighbourhood.

I (Kath Murray, founder of Life and Death Matters) often say that “I came to hospice nursing as a child”. It was Frankie (my aunt) who introduced me to care for the dying. Frankie taught me about community, casseroles, custard and caregiving. With her as my mentor, I learned about dying, care of the dying, care of the body after death. And watching her, I knew that care of the sick and the dying is “everyone’s responsibility”. From these childhood experiences, I became passionate about the need for excellent education and resources to help health care workers, nurses, and family members feel more confident and to be more competent in caring. This inspired my writing of the text, “Integrating a Palliative Approach: Essentials for Personal Support Workers” and the more recent text, “Essentials in Hospice and Palliative Care: A Practical Resource for Every Nurse”.

The Recipient

The award will be presented to a dedicated compassionate community caregiver, who works in a paid position, as a volunteer or as an informal caregiver. The caregiver might, like Frankie be a nurse or health care assistant, but the recipient might be a hair stylist, taxi driver, mechanic, gardener etc. This person will understand the needs of the dying and bereaved and will go out of their way to respond to those needs.


An individual, living in British Columbia, who has provided compassionate care and support to patients, loved-ones, neighbors and /or friends when dying or grieving, over a sustained period of time.  This person is one who could use the award to enhance their care competencies.


An individual can apply for the award (requires two additional letters of reference) or can nominate another person for the award (requires one additional letter of reference).

In the application letter, introduce the person, and in a maximum of 500 words, describe the person’s contribution to caring for the dying and bereaved in their community. You may also want to describe what the person will do with the monies when received.

Selection process

The British Columbia Hospice Palliative Care Association’s (BCHPCA’s) Awards Committee will select the top applicants and forward the applications and recommendation to Life and Death Matters. Life and Death Matters will make the final award decisions, based on how closely the applicant reflects the inspiration for this award.  If there are several equally outstanding applicants, Life and Death Matters may enter the names in a draw to determine the recipient.


The award recipient will receive a cheque for five hundred dollars ($500). The recipient may use this to attend an education course/session, to purchase books, to participate in self-care, or any other project or initiative to enhance his/her care competencies.

  • Print and complete Application Form
  • Award applications accepted between January 5 – March 31st, 2017
  • Award presented May 26, 2017 (BCHPCA Awards Luncheon)

Please submit your application and supporting documents to BCHPCA, by:

Mail:  Suite 1100 – 1200 West 73rd Avenue
Vancouver, BC V6P 6G5
Fax:    604-267-7026
Email: office@bchpca.org