Tuesday, August 9, 2011


I've been doing hospice work for over a year now, and I still really enjoy it. It can be hard work, sometimes a little overwhelming, but it's still rewarding. I have a patient now that I've been seeing for a few months and we're really enjoying each other. My patient is 94 and still sharp as a tack. I enjoyed hospice so much that I volunteered to with the Bereavement group.

Bereavement with my organization manifests in two different ways. One group sends out supportive and informative mailings all year to those whose loved one has gone through hospice. The other group, which I belong to, interacts directly with the loved ones of the deceased. We will contact anyone involved directly after a loss if asked to by the hospice nurse; we also set a schedule to call the family or friends one month and three months after the loss.

Sometimes family members are taken aback or a little unsure about why I'm calling, but after I explain my purpose, they quite often take the opportunity to open up to someone they don't know and who they don't have to protect or care for, and it can often be an extremely valuable conversation, for both of us. I've been doing this now for about three months. Today I logged in to the system and perused the charts of the families I had on my list to call. I started with the first patient, looking up how many family members there were, who they were, and their contact info.

I don't know why, but all of a sudden, it occurred to me that someday, perhaps very soon, someone would be doing this for my family. Someone in a hospice program would be accessing my father's information and determining I and my sister were the family members, and preparing themselves to give me a call. I don't know why this hadn't occurred to me before, but my heart literally dropped as soon as it did, and I felt suddenly so sad.

I tend to think of Dad as just living on, being around somewhere, getting worse little by little, but always there when I visit. However, fairly soon this won't be the case, and I'll definitely be enrolling him in the hospice program, and after that, he will die.
And it will be me being comforted by the hospice and bereavement volunteers.

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