November is National Hospice and Palliative Care Month. Hospice care focuses on improving the quality of care, supporting patients along with their loved ones and providing comfort. I want to take a few moments to spotlight the challenging, yet necessary aspect of healthcare that has played such a big part throughout my life.
In 2010, I lost my grandmother, my precious ma-ma. Throughout her last months and then days, the hospice nurses and aides were caring, supportive and very helpful as we watched my ma-ma gradually slip further and further from us. They were knowledgeable and answered even the smallest of questions with a big heart and open arms. Hospice was there for both my grandmother and the family even in the last few minutes of her life.
Fast forward a few years, I’m experiencing hospice from another aspect, one that isn’t common but yet so very, very needed; perinatal hospice. As a bereavement doula, I walk with mothers and fathers as they prepare for the hardest journey they may face, carrying and delivering a child that they will ultimately lose. My journey into holding the space between life and loss has changed me for the better and while hard, I wouldn’t change a thing. Recently, I went back to work after having the last year to finish school and build my nonprofit. In just under a month, my experience with Homestead Hospice has been eye opening and informative experience.
“For my mother, as she began to really fail after years of incapacitation in a nursing home, hospice care workers were so helpful in observing and pointing out little changes in cognition and behaviors that showed accelerated decline, and helped us anticipate how her last week would unfold as she moved into "active dying" stage. They helped her decline feel normal, expected, and managed meds to keep her calm and without much pain. They were so respectful of her as a person, and asked about her life, even though she was no longer capable of communicating or projecting any sense of grace or serenity. In short, they helped her and visiting family experience death in a much more peaceful and comforting way than otherwise would have been.”
“My dad spent several days and nights at Wendover Hospice in Shelby, NC in 1998. The staff addressed every need of my dad and our family in compassionate and loving ways. My sister dreamed that Mom and Dad were able to renew their wedding vows. That day we arrived and told the workers. It seemed that they moved Heaven and earth to make it happen. They knew how close Daddy was to his earthly departure, he could no longer communicate. Staff moved many potted plants into the room. Family members just 'happened' to stop for a visit. In addition my parent's pastor was able to 'officiate'. As we prepared to leave following the five minute service, I went to say Goodbye to Daddy. He couldn't speak, but I watched one tear travel down his cheek. I will always know that Daddy realized that was the last thing he could do for his bride of 48 years. And he could not have done it without the care and concern of Hospice- neither could we.”
“In August 2014 hospice was called in to help my broth-in-law as he entered the last stage of his life. During this same time my precious mother was diagnosed with stage 4 colon cancer. My sister & her husband live with my mother. A month after Donnie died, hospice was again called in, to the same home & helped mother during her last days. We had the same group from hospice. They were wonderful! They stayed with us from 9 pm Saturday until 4 pm on Sunday when mother took her last breath. Their knowledge, help, comfort & compassion was such a blessing to us as we tried accept such great loses in such a short period of time.”
“…Our uncle Bud was there…those workers are the most gracious people I’ve ever known...so compassionate and caring. I lost my mother in law on September 1st and hospice was so caring and attentive, not only to her but to us as well....they still call to check on us....I donate every Christmas...very worthy cause!!!!!!”
These are just a few thoughts by people who have experienced the care and compassion provided by hospice around the country, if you or someone you know has questions or is anticipating the need for hospice, encourage them to seek the required resources and know that they and their families will be in good hands.