Faith With Raised Hands

Lori and Gary Greenfield

“I want to help others,” says Gary Greenfield. As a patient at Serenity Home living with ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis), Gary’s challenges would be nearly impossible for most of us to appreciate. ALS has left Gary non-verbal, unable to speak out loud. Still, Gary’s ability to communicate goes beyond the spoken word; he uses technology and body language to share his needs, thoughts, and feelings. The decision to accept hospice care is often deeply personal, and Gary and his wife Lori made a firm decision not to waste any time. Comfort and care were paramount to living a life of faith and service. Has Gary been mad at God for his struggles? Mad at ALS, but never at God, Lori assures. “God picks up every piece, and I know we’re OK,” Lori explained. Gary wants his story of hospice to help others in similar situations. From massage therapy to all the comfort care received, Serenity has been a refuge, providing such delicate care and a wonderful partnership. 

A core mission of Serenity is to work as a team to provide as much care and compassion as possible. One way that Serenity excels is through integrated therapies, whether massage, music, pet therapy, aromatherapy, or virtual reality. Serenity’s Integrated Therapies Manager, Cori Gale, has been part of the team caring for Gary. “It is such an honor to be a part of each patient’s end-of-life journey, but in my experience as a hospice massage therapist, the ALS population (and really any end-stage neurological diagnoses) seems to have an amplified relief response that goes so far beyond the physical pain relief massage therapy can provide.” Medication and other therapies enable great relief, and when brought together with a real person, one individual caring intensely for another provides even more significant results. “During our sessions, we find a beautiful language beyond words, where touch speaks comfort, understanding, and empathy,” says Cori.

Cori Gale (Integrated Therapist) is working with Gary.

Lori and Gary insist that “serenity” is not a casual title or branding. The organization is called “Serenity” for a good reason. We take so much for granted these days, and the need for peace and serenity in times of trouble and worry is so great. Lori is confident that Serenity Hospice & Home is where God called them both to be cared for now. It has been a “hard struggle,” but Lori shares that their response has been faith in God. Amid their struggle, they have found solace and tranquility in the care provided by Serenity Hospice & Home, a testament to the peace that can be found in such challenging times.

Recently, Gary and Lori participated in a worship service virtually, and as the service neared its end, the final praise song was being

The Benefits Of Massage Therapy For Patients Are Numerous

beautifully sung. Lori looked over at Gary and thought Gary had fallen asleep with his eyes closed lying on his bed. Something was very different, though, in this moment. Suddenly, Gary began to lift one arm high. For many churchgoers, this is a common occurrence, but for a hospice patient living with ALS, it is even more of an act of devotion and faith. Gary continued in prayer and praise with a still hand and arm raised high in thanks to God throughout the rest of the song. Lori wants people to know that hospice care can be a place of joy and faith, and Gary is a witness to that care and support. Lori herself felt “overwhelming peace” in the holiest moment, together experiencing worship in their room despite the worship at Passion Vineyard Fellowship taking place states away in Arizona. 

The Power of Faith, Music and Relationships

Lori was reminded of the verse: “Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing,” from John 15:5. For Lori, this verse encapsulates the power of faith and community in overcoming adversity. God is in control and brings people together to serve. God connects us all in unique and wonderful ways. From medical staff, therapists, pastors, social workers, friends, and family, we all are called to help one another. Gary’s life and experience are a story of faith, endurance, care, and compassion. Hospice care is an important comfort and robust way to experience the end of life’s journey. As Gary wants others to know about how he is being cared for we are equally privileged that he is a light of faith on our own paths. Thank you to Gary and Lori for allowing Serenity to walk with you and share your faith story. May we strive to live with an arm raised to God and an arm out to help others daily and in every circumstance, united in our faith and resilience.

Special thanks to Lori Greenfield for the powerful photos!