I am Angry at Myths

Believing the myths of morphine are hindering peaceful deaths and triggering inappropriate guilt trips of survivors. The nation wide belief in myths regarding morphine is getting in the way of the dying’s biggest fears, that their pain will not be managed to their preferences.

Some physicians, nurses, medication aides and families are afraid patients will die on their watch because they administer a “comfort drug” such as morphine.

What are you believing?



Stick to the Plan

For health and wellness, there is nothing better than sticking to the plan. Proven guidelines and coordinated steps are pretty sure to get you to “health and wellness.”

Well then, what in the world do we do when there is a wrench thrown into the plan? Illness, disability, major crisis of any kind can interrupt the good intentions of a plan.

Have you ever felt the grief or the frustration of not being able to stick to the plan? Do you know those intense emotions when the plan is nothing but a loss or a thing of the past?

Terminal illness does that to the extreme. Nothing stays normal or routine. Sticking to the plan may mean no matter what…kindness, thankfulness and flexibility are the plan.


One Reason

Some folks just can not reconcile the inevitable fact of a person dying. The obvious fact of death coming soon will not motivate or prepare them for engaging in end-of-life preparations. It isn’t necessarily denial, but a no thank you, I am not going to approach my loved one’s death by embracing the dying part of their life.

And so…this is one reason 1/3rd of the clients receiving hospice will die within 7 days of the start of care. These are the clients and family members who do not get the full benefit of the team, a benefit that peaks near 60 days of service.



Suddenly:  when something happens immediately after your last breath or memory. It’s next on the timeline of life. Nothing else is in between.

An amazing piece of advise came to me from a co-worker in hospice, a bereavement coordinator…one who follows up with the survivors after a death and facilitates conversations and processes in their grief.

She is the one who asked me if I was going to be willing to still love my friend (who had a child die suddenly) in “her new life.” Suddenly lives change, relationship styles become different, because life changes in unique ways…

Suddenly…and then we begin adjusting.


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…


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!


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



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.



Hear Our Fears

As a hospice nurse, I have spoken the words “It is time to begin Morphine…” Those words were regularly met with being stunned and frozen faces expressing resistance and silently screaming “NO!”

We don’t have to be in the context of a loved one dying to have a reaction like this moment in time. Any situation that calls us in to a reality and reveals our position of a “have to” will cause any one of us to resist and desperately try to find another way.

My hope…is that the person telling us “it is time” to do something we truly never want to do…has developed our trust and compassionately directs us past resistance.

© 2014. Copyright Jackie J Bates. Designed by Artillery Media