Hospice made the goodbye less bitter, more sweet

09/30/19 at 07:48 AM by Cordt Kassner

I'm not quite sure why this story struck me... It was something about hospice staff helping "pass the time when you know death is inevitable". We know hospice staff are trained to look for difficult situations that to a family member might feel like "a chance encounter". Sometimes hospice services are most valued for technical expertise at the end-of-life, sometimes it's for the humanity provided when walking alongside a patient or family member through the journey. (Summary by Hospice News Today, 9/30/19.)


Hospice made the goodbye less bitter, more sweet
By Julia Bergman
The Day (New London, CT)
September 29, 2019

… After my grandmother was admitted to a hospital in Philadelphia for congestive heart failure, we were told she had hours to days to live. The family made the decision that in-patient hospice care was the best course of action. Then came the waiting. How do you pass the time when you know death is inevitable, that it’s coming in a matter of days, maybe hours? The hospice staff assigned to us were instrumental in helping us navigate that process, in making the passing of time more bearable. … We wanted her to die comfortably and without pain, and they helped ensure that happened. They treated her with dignity throughout, greeting her by her first name when they entered the room, and explaining to her what they were about to do—give her morphine, take her blood pressure—even if she wasn’t aware of their presence. … When her death was imminent, they helped us navigate saying goodbye, suggesting we each take time individually to be with her privately. I won’t forget the kindness a hospice nurse, who was not assigned to my grandmother, offered my sister and me, as we walked down the hallway after kissing our grandmother goodbye, tears streaming down our faces. We explained to her that we weren’t expecting to be so upset. Given her age, we knew this was coming sooner rather than later. She embraced us and said even when someone is expected to die, it’s never an easy process. She could’ve passed us by, but she took those minutes to console us. There are many sad and tragic stories of death, but this was not one of them. This was a life well lived running its course. But it was far from an easy experience, and hospice staff helped ease the pain.

[Editor’s Note: The author is a reporter for the newspaper.]

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