Hospice

Do You Have a Moment?

one minute

Gotta minute?

In 2017, the life expectancy for an “average” American was 78 years. Simple multiplication means that the annual total of 525,600 minutes accumulates to 40,996,800 lifetime minutes.

In a minute, everything can change.

In hospice, every moment is precious.

How many minutes are wasted on worries that prove meaningless, or speaking meaningless (but hurtful) words we regret, or regretting decisions that meant there was less time with loved ones?

How many singular, wonderful moments become like doors into rooms decorated with experiences that will be treasured for the remainder of life? Read More →

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Hospice is a Foreign Language

hear

It’s nearly impossible to hear and retain information about hospice care when a loved one enters the final stages of life. Whether a years-long struggle with heart disease or a cancer diagnosis and weeks to live, most have never considered hospice’s options and limits.

Of course, they haven’t! But then:

With honest conversations and tenderness, a family decides hospice is the best choice.

Or . . .

Staggered by panic and desperate to get a loved one out of the hospital, hospice seems like the awful but only possibility.

Or . . .

In denial until doctors say there is “nothing more to do,” a family continues to not talk about dying or death as their beloved enters into hospice care. Read More →

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Regrets in a Season of Disease

prison

I think of an elderly woman, who sometimes feels like she is in jail . . .

“This is not prison,” she said. “I know that. But, just a little bit, just occasionally, and if I’m feeling down, it does seem . . .”

She paused, sighed, and then added, “. . . like I’m stuck in jail.”

I remember the call from back in April, wanting to see how she was getting along a month after her husband had died. He had been my hospice’s patient since the beginning of the year. From just after Christmas to nearly the start of spring, the husband (and father of three) had gone from taking walks with his family to bedbound. His wife of over sixty years, the woman I called, held his hand when he took his last breath.

And then she went to “jail.” The Covid-19 pandemic, in the final weeks of his life, was all over the news. If he had died a week later, she may not have been by his side.

“We were lucky,” she said, not sounding lucky.

A few years back, they had moved into a “senior citizens’ joint” (her husband’s words). Their small apartment was adequate. The twice-a-day meals were nourishing. The facility staff was friendly.

Then, shelter-in-place. Read More →

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