Words Used in Hospice I’d Like to Delete

winding paths

The scene below is complete fiction . . . (Except families face similar situations every day.)

The phone rang before he had sampled the morning’s first cup of coffee. Given the daily flood of robocalls, wrong numbers, and solicitations for money or opinions, he thought about ignoring it. Out of habit, he glanced at the caller ID.

His sister, phoning before dawn on the other side of the country.

He answered, knowing even before she spoke her first halting, gasping, tearful words that their father—the “old man,” the cranky veteran of two wars, and the guy who had not disturbed his wife’s side of the closet a decade after her death—had taken a turn for the worse.

“You better come,” she said. “I think he’s dying.”

Within the hour, he’d called his boss and rearranged his schedule. He bought credit-card-exploding plane tickets and kissed his wife and kids goodbye. Finally settled into a lousy middle chair in a row of three seats near the back of the plane, several thoughts dominated his mind.

Maybe I can get closure.

And then the family can get back to normal.

I hope this will be over soon. Read More →

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On Faith: Blessing, Burden, or Both?

faith traditions

The younger one answered the phone.

Her older sister had recently died. Soon, I was sharing what our hospice offered for the grieving. Part of my job responsibilities include “cold calling” family members in the fragmented, blurry days after a loved one’s death.

Like many hospices, we have grief counselors. It would be easy to schedule a one-on-one session, but she didn’t sound interested. I suggested our support groups.

“Maybe later on, but I’m really not a groupy kind of person.”

A grief workshop on next month’s calendar also wasn’t appealing. And then, since this conversation occurred when summer was fading into autumn, I mentioned several upcoming annual activities. One dealt with facing the holidays without a loved one. Another was an outdoor memorial service between Thanksgiving and Christmas, open to everyone in the community.

“Are those holiday events going to focus on a particular faith?” she asked.

She emphasized particular. Read More →

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With Hospice, Maybe Tomorrow Should Be Today

Scarlett O'Hara

My mother loved Gone With the Wind.

As a teen, she may have first seen it in 1939, the year it premiered. Much, much later, I watched it with Mom on television. Though I’m not a fan of the famous, sprawling film, who can forget the closing moment?

“Oh, I can’t think about this now! I’ll go crazy if I do! I’ll think about it tomorrow. But I must think about it. I must think about it. What is there to do? What is there that matters? Tara! Home. I’ll go home. And I’ll think of some way to get him back. After all, tomorrow is another day.”

The music swelled, and soon the final credits rolled as—viewers may forever assume—the clever Scarlett O’Hara schemed to rebuild Tara and perhaps get Rhett back and, well, keep living like there were 10,000 tomorrows.

Which finally leads me to ask: what’s your excuse for avoiding hospice? Read More →

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