Unhappy Anniversary

black balloons

“When a year later arrived, I didn’t like the date of Mom’s death being called an anniversary.”

I don’t recall if that statement was read in a book or was part of a conversation. But the sentence has stuck with me, bothered me, and I still haven’t done much to change one of my phone habits.

Included in my responsibilities at the hospice where I work is calling the bereaved. Based on our company’s guidelines, we try to schedule calls several weeks and several months after the family member or friend has died. With some exceptions, the final scheduled phone contact is near the one year “anniversary” of the death date.

I’m glad we do. Even a brief or awkward conversation lets a griever know they are not forgotten. In many of those calls, no one will answer. These days, people are more likely to let a phone ring and find out later who left—or didn’t leave—a message. There are always disconnected numbers or ones that block “unknown” callers. However, quite a few people do respond. They are at work or home or traveling and suddenly there is this voice on the other end asking them, almost a year later, how they are doing. Read More →

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Hospice and the Unknown

UnknownOn the weekly list of hospice patients and their myriad illnesses, one disease seemed to glare back at me: Idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis.

What was it? I’d never heard or read about this illness.

Later, I found this description from the Cleveland Clinic’s website:

In IPF, lung tissue becomes scarred and changes the lung’s ability to function normally. The scarring typically starts at the edges of the lungs and advances towards the center of the lungs. Typically, mild scarring occurs first, but over months to years, the normal lung tissue is replaced by more heavily scarred lung tissue, which makes it difficult to breathe and deliver needed oxygen to the body. Unfortunately, IPF is a disabling disease without a known cure and with few treatment options. The cause of IPF is unknown . . . [Italics added by me.]

After reading, I took a deep breath.

Lungs!

Air!

Life! Read More →

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Let Me (Not) Give You Some Advice

Advice

Giving advice starts early!

I resist giving advice.

I relish giving advice.

Both statements are true.

Obviously, I spend considerable time with advice-giving by posting regular essays about hospice. I want those considering hospice (for themselves or others) to have resources during this crucial time. I want to offer suggestions—through questions, concerns, insights—for families currently served by hospice. Whether wondering about odd medical terms or nudging people to be honest about dying and death, I hope my views (advice!) help a few readers.

But advice is inherently tricky. What works for me may not work for you. At times I’ve asked friends if they’d like my advice about a situation they are facing. If they nod assent, I respond with, “Don’t trust anyone else’s advice but yours.” We laugh. We roll our eyes. It’s a joke! However, it also rings true. Follow your heart. Take the time to listen to your inner voice. If you are a person of faith, pray . . . and then be open to the ways the Holy provides guidance. Carefully seek input from trusted family members, friends, and professionals. Cautiously use the Internet with its smorgasbord of bad/good, weird/wonderful, fickle/fact-filled viewpoints. (Which includes my website on advice about hospice!) Read More →

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