Archive for Hospice

Hope is a Hospice Thing


“Hope is a dangerous thing . . .”

My obvious hope on this website is to inform people about hospice.

I speak personally. A hospice cared for Dad. My mother, though never a hospice patient, received feedback from a hospice nurse that proved crucial to my family’s decisions. (We also “rejected” another hospice because their admitting nurse was—being polite—a poor listener.)

I speak professionally from my past. On numerous occasions, visiting hospice patients as their chaplain or pastor, I witnessed the importance of quiet time with loved ones in the final days. As hard as it was to admit, one more round of chemotherapy or another frantic trip to the emergency room would only put off the inevitable for a brief, painful time. Wasn’t it better to remain home?

I speak professionally from my present position in bereavement support. On numerous occasions, grievers have shared with me how helping a dying spouse—or other beloved family and friends—represented a way to honor that relationship. They learned about their unexpected strength and compassion as they focused on being a caregiver.

I also try to speak realistically about hospice and mortality. Modern medication, fervent prayers, high-tech treatments, and the skilled hands of a surgeon may lead to remission or even complete cures . . .

But do you think your ill friend or family member is somehow immortal?

Do you think you are? Read More →

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6 of the 13 Things Someone Should Tell You About Hospice

[I am writing a book on hospice. One section includes 13 Things people should know about hospice. There are far more than thirteen, but I wanted a manageable list for someone suddenly trying to learn about hospice. Below are the first six.

I ask for your help. What was missed that you think should be known about hospice? Maybe your suggestion will be similar to one of the remaining seven not included here. Or maybe it will help me add a better one! I look forward to suggestions.]

#1 – Hospice is (not) about giving up.

When hospice is considered, many people (including doctors) declare a variation of: “There’s nothing more we can do.” No cures remain. No procedures will stop the disease’s progression. No cutting-edge experimental drugs will make a difference. It’s time to throw in the towel, cash in the chips, raise the white flag . . . hey, wait!

Hospice, with its six months or less to live, is designed to maximize time with family, to express and/or receive love, forgiveness, and gratitude. Hospice care can include long chats about today and shared memories about yesterday. Unfortunately, many patients are near death when entering hospice. [Based on 2016 data, 27.9% of patients die in a week or less.] I do think too many wait too long to even consider hospice. Since hospice is a choice, and allows people to be at home and engage with the loved ones in their life, it is not about giving up. It is a choice to make the most of every precious day. Read More →

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Doctors, Hospice, and Plato’s 2,000-Year-Old Comment

A son’s Dad had died about six weeks ago.

I phoned to check on the son and his family. During the brief chat, I learned that his father hailed from Wyoming, had been a wonderful grandfather to his many grandchildren, and how the family was dreading all of the future birthdays and holidays without “Gramps.”

In some of the bereavement calls I make for hospice, no one is home (or no one answers) and I’ll leave a message. Or the call is quick and perfunctory. On occasions, callers talk for quite a while because they’re hurting or lonely. I try to be ready for anything.

In this call, the man whose father had recently died, and who’d been served by hospice for only a handful of days, asked, “Why didn’t Dad’s doctor ever tell us about hospice?” He paused, then shared more of his father’s story. After multiple emergency room trips, procedures attempted and procedures considered, a surgeon had lingered in the father’s hospital room. It was this doctor— unknown to the family hours before—that finally explained the option of hospice. Read More →

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