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Featured Story – Daniel Morii, continued from Home Page

The story.  Why do we tell stories?  Why are they important?  Stories connect, bridge, and transcend, but above all, they help us find meaning and make sense out of our experiences.  For Daniel, the story has always been about helping people understand and become aware of vital information


After an honorable discharge from military service as a medic and psychiatric social worker, Daniel returned to school to study teaching and later, film.   Over the course of his career, Daniel has given his time to support veterans, the arts, and sustainable living, and has helped local businesses share their stories to educate the public about available programs and services. Daniel is especially proud of his role in bringing the story of Taiko to a national audience through PBS, and being part of the Emmy nominated program Pacific Fusion, a pioneering show that focused on stories of Asian and Pacific Islanders.

Daniel Morii, palliative and hospice patient, Hawai‘i Care Chocies/Hospcie of Hilo

“Now that the reality of death seems very nearby in my life, my thoughts about dying and death have become more of a daily ritual of acceptance,” explained Daniel.  A life spent documenting authentic human experiences and sharing the raw material of real-life has culminated in Daniel’s desire to share his end-of-life journey with others.  “I feel like a ‘newbie’ learning about the cultural taboos and attitudinal stigmas that exist towards disease, dying, and death. But, what seems most important to me now is to be open-minded about my palliative care treatment plan, knowing what I need to do to stay relatively healthy until I succumb to the symptoms of my cancer.”


As Daniel moves ahead with, in his words, “accepting and celebrating my life, and honoring my death,” he has gained comfort from the support given by the Kupu Care team, who have been at his side during oncology and radiation appointments, ensuring he and his partner, Shari, make informed decisions about his care, and better understand the process moving forward.  Daniel has now shifted from the intellectual, to what he calls, “the emotional reality of his situation.” And as his time becomes short the storyteller in him becomes even stronger.  “I feel like I am doing my life dance, gravitating towards doing what I feel needs to be done and what I am passionate about accomplishing before I die.”


Getting personal affairs together to allow a smooth transition for family, friends, and colleagues is very important to Daniel at this point in his journey, as is giving final input on projects dear to his heart, and making sure he can take part in, “family outings, trips, and events that will enable me, my family and friends, to enjoy what we can together.”


Life journeys reflect “our attitudes,” according to Daniel, “focusing points in our lives that allow us to look back at the emerging story as a touchstone of appreciation and insight.”  As Daniel spends his remaining time surrounded by those he loves, and who love him, his story circles back to a humid twilight evening in Ohio decades past, catching fireflies in a bottle with friends. 


A creature of light and a symbol of illumination, the firefly’s radiant glow provides a guiding lantern in the darkness.  When asked what he would like people to take away from his experience, his story, Daniel answered, “The most important take away I believe is to Listen to our inner voice, Listen to our loved ones, Listen to our friends that care and love us. Know that preparing for a smooth transition is work, and that we are not the first to be on this journey called End of Life, there are health care providers and caregivers that have assisted people where I am today, and they are here to assist and help navigate us through these last stages of our life journey.”


Daniel – Thank you for lighting the way.

Following Daniel's Journey

Editor’s note - Hawai‘i Tribune Herald: This is the first story in an occasional series about Daniel “Morii” Schwinn, who is terminally ill. He and his spouse, Shari, invited Tribune-Herald reporter Jeff Hansel and photographer Hollyn Johnson to share the couple’s journey with readers.  


Morii has less than six months to live. As his story unfolds, readers are encouraged to talk with their own loved ones about death and dying. 


Click on each story to read more.

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