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The Cokie Roberts Interview (Page 1 of 2)

An Interview with Cokie Roberts

Gary Barg: Tell me what your personal interest in hospice really is?  Did it come about from your role in caregiving for your sister?

Cokie Roberts: No, but I came to understand how important it is to approach death in a positive way.  I felt very strongly that this was important to talk about and very few people who knew anything about television were able to talk about it.  So, they came to me, figuring that the combination of the fact that I had cared for someone who was dying, that I could put a television program on the air, and more important, get it on the air, was a good combination.  The calls that come in are just unbelievable.  And theyíve done a very good job of not only putting together good people to talk about the different aspects of death and dying over the years, but also the taping throughout the broadcast; it is so moving. There are times when youíll be sitting there on the set with tears streaming down your cheeks.

GB: There are so many misunderstandings about hospice in general and I know that caregivers still misunderstand hospice.  What in particular would you like to say to help people understand what hospice really is?

CR: Itís not some dreaded thing.  I think there is a sense that if you call in hospice, then you might as well just call the funeral home, and thatís not the case.  Also, I think that people still really donít understand that you donít have to go to a building called a hospice.  They need to understand (a) hospice is not going away, itís staying home; (b) that it can last over a period of months; (c) and that it is a serviceónot only for the person who is terminally ill, but for the whole family.  The family often needs a great deal more help than the person who is sick; not only in terms of care, but in dealing with death.  Iíve found often that the person who is dying can cope with it; theyíve caught on, but the family is just nowhere near where the dying person is.

GB: Youíve said that caregiving is a continuum.  Can you explain what you mean by that?

CR: That is the message I always try to give young women (I do this at womenís college graduations all the time): first of all, donít think that there is a period of your life when youíre a caregiverÖWhen your children are small.  When your parents are old, whatever it is.  What women do is take care.  Thatís what we do.  We do a lot of other stuff, too, but what our mission on this earth is, as far as Iím concerned (and I get a lot of argument on it, but thatís tough) is taking care.  Sometimes, it is taking care of the planet or the library or the cultural center or whatever it is.  But usually, even if that is what a womanís focus is, sheís also taking care of human beings.  And itís not necessarily just of your own children when theyíre small or when theyíre having problems along the way or of your own parents.

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