Archive for Dying – Page 2

Hospice: Apt or Likely to Change

“However,” the hospice nurse continued while describing a patient, “right now she is very labile.”

Huh?

As the nurse shared additional information about the patient to the rest of the hospice team, my feeble mind wandered. I like to think I’m pretty knowledgeable about words. I keep my dictionary near my desk. I pay attention to new words in the books I read. Searching for word meanings and histories on the web may give me as much pleasure as when a pitcher throws a strikeout or an attorney finds the key witness for a case. But I had no idea what labile meant.

Later (of course!), I looked it up. It’s pronounced Lay-Bile. According to an online dictionary, it means . . .

  1. Apt or likely to change.
  2. Chemistry. (of a compound) capable of changing state or becoming inactive when subjected to heat or radiation.

Now I understood that the nurse’s patient was rapidly changing. Maybe the patient had been able to walk not long before but had become bed bound. Maybe yesterday or last week, she’d been preparing her own meals, but now required assistance. Maybe pain had dramatically increased and additional medications would need to be considered.

In hospice, change happens frequently and quickly. In other words, patients are labile, and rarely by choice. Read More →

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When Loved Ones Die Alone

Please, I don’t want to face death alone.

I’d prefer to take a last breath in my home.

I long to die peacefully; in my sleep.

Not a burden; nor someone hard to keep.

Let me say the goodbyes,

Then close my eyes.

And . . . die.

Amen.

What would be your prayer?

What would be your hope?

What would be your plan? Or lack of plans, because some fickle or faithful part of nearly all of us are wishful thinkers, people that dread the hard conversations or avoid the unsettling subjects or put off until tomorrow—even the next decade—any conversation about the solemn, scary subject of . . .

Dying.

My death.

My parents wanted to grow old and die at home. The mortgage was paid. The landscaping well-tended and mature. The rooms held memories. There was cozy furniture and well-lighted spaces.

They did not die at home. Read More →

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Sauntering Along the Hospice Path

It was the pause.

The silence.

I won’t reveal details, but when I called a woman grieving her husband’s death, we talked about several things. Some were trivial. Some involved how her adult children were doing. Some concerned upcoming decisions that she faced.

Then I asked her a question.

And that pause came.

One of my responsibilities at the hospice where I work is to phone grievers after a loved one’s death. Many don’t want to talk for long, though they seem to appreciate the contact. Occasionally, the ones I call drive me batty! They answer and immediately say they can’t talk. Why? They’re at work or shopping or there’s a thousand good reasons . . . so why’d they even answer!?

However.

Could it be they simply (and understandably) don’t want to talk to the guy from hospice? They don’t want more tears falling or throat constricting. They’d rather avoid the memories that might rush in, unbidden and with the force of a typhoon. Read More →

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