I agreed with him.
The nephew’s aunt—who’d raised him since his single-parent mother had died before he entered kindergarten—was the most important person in his life. Her final days in hospice, as far as he was concerned, became her worst days.
Based on the brief chart notes I’d scanned about this sixty-something woman, I hadn’t expected any anger about hospice. When I phoned not long after her death to ask how he and the rest of the family were doing, his anger shadowed our entire conversation.
Here, though, I must pause.
There was no nephew. I am making most of this up, based on my thousands of calls to people grieving in the first days after the death of a loved one. And there was no aunt. The “type of thing” that “should never happen” could include many different possibilities:
- A social worker made a promise to bring a list of local companies for caregiving options, but never followed through.
- A home health aide didn’t properly dry off the patient after a bath.
- A hospice physician had scheduled a visit with the family in the morning, but didn’t arrive until late afternoon.
- A chaplain said a prayer that was explicitly Christian, but the patient was Buddhist.
I could keep adding to this list of disappointments. All of them are possible, but none of what I mentioned happened to this fictional family with a “nephew” desperately hoping his beloved “aunt” would have a calm, easy, gentle death. Read More →by