True Confessions of a Mom: Why You Might Have Hospice Care All Wrong.

Posted by on Feb 12, 2016 in

True Confessions of a Mom: Why You Might Have Hospice Care All Wrong.

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Hi! Yes, You! The one who clicked this link out of curiosity about Hospice!  Can I ask you a question?

If I were to say the word Hospice to you, what would come to mind? Cancer? Someone who is ready to take their last breath? A sorrowful time filled with tears and depression?  Workers telling everyone to be quiet and keeping visitors at bay?

I believe, in my own opinion, that Hospice has a gloomy death stigma attached to it. If you have never experienced it then you only have what your own imagination tells you it means.  You may have overheard phrases like “well, they’ve called in Hospice, it’s only a matter of time now.” When you aren’t familiar with something and you just overhear conversation it’s hard to really understand what a group does.  I am going to explain what I think of Hospice then we can see if that helps change your perception. Ok?

Stigma #1   Hospice is only for Cancer patients.  NOPE.  Totally wrong.  While people with cancer do make up a large portion of Hospice clientele, a little over 50% are diagnosed with Heart Disease, Liver failure, Dementia or lung disease, among other things.  Death is no respecter of persons and doesn’t have a favorite terminal illness.

Stigma #2 Hospice will push their agenda on me.   NO……..Again.  Hospice has one goal.  To give quality, comfortable and dignified care through the end of life.  They also provide some of the most amazing companionship to the family.  They work hand in hand with the patient, family and doctors to provide the most compassionate treatment they can.  This is why it is important to have these discussions with your family.   To know the wishes of spouses, parents, and siblings regarding their end of life care is so crucial.  Having everyone on the same page in advance eases tension and provides peace of mind.

Stigma #3 Hospice is doom and gloom. This is a no, but not for the reason you might think.  Ok, we agree that there is a time when the sun is setting on a beautiful life for the last time that the mood in a room may be somber.  The air is heavy with grief.  But, last week?  Last week there was laughter as the Hospice Care worker was listening to stories of a life well lived.  Last week there were smiles when a hand was being held.  Last week there was relief that a loved one could take a nap knowing that a faithful new friend was sitting bedside.  Doom and gloom?  No.  More like joy and solace.  You ask…. How can there be joy?  The joy is in comfort that your loved one is being cared for.  The joy is that their pain is managed.  The joy is in the hug that comes when you are sad AND relieved at the same time that your loved one is not suffering anymore. So yes, there is joy.

Stigma #4 You’ve given up. There is no more hope once Hospice has started.  WRONG.  There is always hope.  I had the privilege of speaking to one of our local Hospice workers on the phone who said something that resonated with me.  She said “Hospice is about hope, but hope changes”.  This is so true.  Hope may have been a cure, now it is comfort.  Hope may be seeing a child or feeling the warm sun on your face one last time.  What we hope for changes in those moments and Hospice is there to try to make as many of your new hopes come to fruition.  It is amazing to me that a company that deals in death, becomes a lifeline to so many.

Death is not a particularly enjoyable topic of discussion. It makes people uncomfortable. It is the worst kind of change possible, because in this lifetime, it is permanent.  That is why we have been given a gift.  A group of special people that think of others before themselves. A group that doesn’t just deal with a 98 year old that has lived a full life and is ready for this chapter to end, but with a child or young mother or father who is dying.  I can tell you right now, I couldn’t do it.  I couldn’t watch a young mother whither and fade away, or support parents of a terminally ill child or comfort someone with no family at all.   It would break my heart in so many pieces.  That is why it is gift to have these workers.  They are to be treasured and respected.

The definition of dignity is: showing serious manner that is worthy of respect. Wow.  I can’t think of a better description of what these amazing men and women do.  They give every last person they come in contact with dignity right to the end.   Not just anyone can do what they do.  Nope.  It takes a special person and I for one, am so glad we get to share space on this earth with them.

What words do I think of when I hear hospice? Care, Compassion, Love, Respect, Dignity, Selfless, Joy, Solace, Rest, Comfort and a whole lot more.  I hope you do too.

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