Author Archive for Larry Patten

What If the Deceased is Despised?

In the grief support groups that I’ve led, I frequently refer to the person who died as, Your beloved.

A while back, my boss attended a hospice conference. After returning to the office, she posed a question from one of the workshop presenters: what if the person being grieved was not loved?

Should everyone be called a “loved one” or “beloved?” Read More →

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The 6th Commandment and Hospice


Doesn’t hospice break the 6th commandment?

Or, to be King James Version about it: Thou Shalt Not _____.

By background, I’m a pastor. Early in my career, I attended a gathering where several irked clergy colleagues argued over the language of the Commandments. In the original Hebrew, did #6 in God’s “top ten” mean murder or kill or both? Ministers may endlessly debate meanings and theological viewpoints, but for some families confronted with end-of-life choices for loved ones, they see little difference between the words.

I often tell sweet stories about all the wonderful stuff that hospice can do for patients while they are dying, for families as they care for a loved one, and for the survivors as they grieve a beloved.

But others will tell different stories. If it’s not hospice will kill you, it could be they will over-medicate you, and you’ll be: too doped up or too hyper or become addicted to drugs or . . . Read More →

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What About the Other C in Hospice Care?


When grieving a loved one, we may bottle up our angry-awful-anguished emotions . . .

When sharing about a new hospice patient, the nurse said, “Constipation and spiritual distress.”

And that was it!

Once a week, in the first hours of a work morning, a hospice team (chaplains, doctors, nurses, social workers, volunteer coordinators, and bereavement) gathers to review the patients. We’ll remember those who have recently died, discuss the current and ongoing patients, and take the first official “team notes” about the patients who have just entered into our care.

In most weekly meetings, there are several patients with sparse information because they were admitted in the prior twenty-four hours. There will only be the initial remarks from an intake nurse. However, if a patient had started with us several days before the meeting, the case manager nurse (and often the social worker) has had an opportunity to visit the home or care facility. More has been learned and discerned, and therefore more can be reported about the patient. The information will be listed in the medical chart, coupled with details for managing each plan of care. Pain will be reduced. Breathing will be improved. Potentially unnecessary medications will be evaluated and may be discontinued. Read More →

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