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  • Writer's pictureLisa Brosky

The empowering strength of hospice care

Death is a daily conversation when you work in hospice care. It’s not depressing.

Because hospice care isn’t about the tragic, heart-wrenching, gone forever sense of dying most people draw to mind. It’s more of a “I’ve lived life on my terms and I am going out on my terms,” way of thinking.

In some cases, it’s a “I’ve lived my life on other people’s terms. I am dying my way.”

Hospice care is empowering.

My mother entered hospice care when it became obvious the medications she used to battle her disease were no longer working. We couldn’t know it then, but she had four months left to live.

By now her world had become rather small. She had built herself a nest, of sorts, in the kitchen. A comfy chair surrounded by the radio, a television, her coffee pot, and books. Lots of books. Books, as she said her entire life, were her friends. Best of all, the backdoor was right there, where everyone important to her came and went.

As her symptoms became more meddlesome and difficult, even her books brought her no comfort.

It was then she welcomed hospice care. And her world opened up again.

They stopped fighting the disease and provided palliative care instead. They eased her pain and, equally important, engaged her very active mind. They also lifted the caregiving burden of my father, who could again be her husband. She taught him to cook from her comfy chair calling out ingredients and techniques. Occasionally, maybe more than occasionally, they would share a frozen daiquiri.

The hospice team – her nurses, social worker, chaplain, a volunteer, an aide who helped her bathe and washed her hair (oh did she love that), also brought lively conversation along with their care, comfortable and compassion. They built a relationship.

Mom , whose voracious reading also made her an outstanding conversationalist, had always been sought out for her various thoughts and opinions and even a good debate from time to time. The hospice team quickly caught onto her brilliant mind and their presence brightened her life. No subject was off limits.

Not long before she died, her nurse presented Mom with a book my mother had loved as child. The entire team had signed it. It’s among my most precious possessions. It was a profound gift, acknowledging her strength and will. Mom had a difficult childhood; solace was found in her books.

Mom wanted to be cremated. She was specific about the cemetery where her ashes would be spread.

Thanks to hospice care, she died on her terms surrounded by people who cared that she was part of their lives.


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