Understanding Hospice?


This was a true story!

A patient’s family requested the following for their loved one as they prepared for surgery. “Put them on hospice status if they don’t make it through surgery.”

Sigh…there’s more teaching to do…


Slowing Down

If you could think “slowing down” may be a precursor to change, you and I are on the same track, especially when it comes to health. Purposely changing our pace is one option in life, but finding oneself unable to move along as years gone by could be a different story.

Our bodies give us clues and we do well to pay attention to its communication. Some people find out they have options for correcting the reason they are slowing down…some people surrender to the natural aging process…some people find out they have life changing news.

Either answer reminds us we but a vapor and today, this hour, this opportunity is what must be seized.





There is no question in my mind, in my life, in my experience… a part of the treatment plan of life is teamwork. It just doesn’t matter whether we are talking about wellness or illness.

Let others help and help others…it’s not a given, it’s a choice


Saying Goodbye

Is there a right way to say goodbye for the final time? My Great Grandma Elva Koch told me “Grandmas and Granddaughters never say goodbye, they say see ya later…” These were her last words to me, I was a teenager considering nursing, she was a 90+ year old lady days away from her last breath.

Being able to have those final words together, face to face and clutching to the memory has been pretty important to me. Whether the words goodbye or see ya are used, the importance is the exchange.

Reality is some of us never get to say goodbye. Sudden death, distance, chasms of many kinds prevent that final goodbye from actually happening.

But when it does get to happen, isn’t it wonderful!


For Love?

A man asked me this question: “Why could I tell my friends my dad was on hospice, but I couldn’t say he is dying?” Did he feel like he was giving up on his dad if he said, “my dad is dying?”

At first I wondered just how awkward it is to face death today in this high-tech medical world, compared to the days when there was minimal intervention for cure or treatment. How far away are we from death being a natural phase of aging? Why is it so profoundly hard to consider death is coming as people enter in to the later stages of a terminal illnesses?

My heart tells me love has something to do with this man’s use of the term “my dad is on hospice.”  Love softens the blows of dying, love covers stress during end of life, love allows us to tolerate the sting of death.

One thing for sure, Love does not fail, and neither did this man.



Broken Spirits

I have been trying to process through the concept of denial during a terminal illness. The longer I consider the word and think about situations where it shows up, the more empathetic I am becoming.

At first, denial seems to cause a knee jerk reaction. The view-point is someone is being resistant, refusing, avoiding and not coping appropriately. Frustration is usually not far away from any conversation.

A little further into this process of examining denial, I see people giving clues to the dept of their broken spirits. They are in not just in a coping style, but a survival mode. Their senses are dulled and reasoning travels a whole different path.

Have you ever said this type of comment? “They just aren’t listening!!!” “Can’t they see…??”

Perhaps we need to add into the equation they did not listen because their discouraged broken spirit and harsh situation interferes with their ability to hear. I wonder then…how much impact could encouragement and empathy have on their (and our…) ability to hear.


A Daily Reminder

I asked to blog this and you should have see her eyes… her dad was her hero and she was able to hear his last words.

And these were his words, “No regrets Babe.”

Now, this precious woman has a daily reminder of probably some of the most impressive words she will every hear in her in her life. Every day something crosses her mind to remind her of her dad and the reassuring words convincing her he died with nothing left unresolved.

Those words bring so much comfort and hope as she processes life without her dad here on earth.

A simple daily reminder…


Shock & Awe

That is the beautiful side of end-of-life work a lot, and I mean a lot, of people are missing when they choose not to consider hospice care.

SHOCK: at how full of life people become when their dignity is honored…even when they are at the end of their life

AWE: what compassion feels like  as caregivers try to bring comfort during an uncomfortable situation




A condition in which someone will not admit that something is true or real…The act of not allowing someone to have something…refusal…negating logic…

Have you seen the difference between denial and survival? One is full of defensiveness and reactive, the other will be timely and steadfast.

How do you want nurses to come along side of you when denial is at the core of your perspective or your loved ones response?





Fighting for Life

Fighting indicates there is a struggle, a fierce competition for existence or a battle that must be won. Clearly anyone who has been given a terminal illness diagnosis gets catapulted into this fight.

How do we, as family or caregivers, come along side of a person going in to this type of survival mode? What can we do?

#1 Be yourself

#2 Don’t wait, act now

#3 Redefine what “winning” or “loosing” may really mean

#4 Let the person tell their story…which may include emotions or perspectives you never have heard from them ever before!

Someone fighting for their life will be on edge, very focused on the task at hand and may become exhausted quickly. As a family or caregiver, your kindness and involvement in simple ways will make a difference.


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