COLUMN: Hospice helps make most of all moments

Published 7:30 am Saturday, March 9, 2024

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There is an art to living at the end of life. Living at the end of life can be a time of significant personal and spiritual growth, not only for the person facing advanced stages of a chronic disease or terminal illness, but also for their loved ones. Given the choice, a person may decide to live the remaining days of their lives surrounded by the people they love, and focusing on what is truly important – their relationships.   The end of a person’s life should be peaceful and meaningful. Death is a part of life; do not be afraid to discuss it. Find help to understand and cope with the emotions concerning an approaching and probable death.

Vickie Wacaster, Patient and Hospice Advocate with Aveanna Hospice (formerly Comfort Care Hospice)

Hospice offers help to the family as well as the patient. It is not just about death; it is about how to live with and cope with a life-limiting prognosis. Hospice offers education on what to expect as the disease progresses and how to cope with the changes and limitations the patient may experience. Hospice focuses on treating the patient’s pain and symptoms, not treating the terminal illness or chronic disease. With hospice, on-call services are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Not everyone with a chronic disease or terminal illness is ready for hospice. Hospice admissions are regulated by very strict regulations and have specific condition criteria. Speak to your physician or call hospice if you have questions concerning the conditions acceptable for hospice admission.

Perchance some may relate to the following poem.

I knew you had been sick for quite a while.
I had no idea you were walking your last mile.
Had I known your time was so near,
Despite my fear, I would have talked more, touched more, and loved more.
I asked about your care, your prognosis, your life,
Why couldn’t they tell me? I was your wife.
Or was I in denial? Did someone try to tell me?
Did I refuse to hear? Could I not see?
Did I refuse to accept?
Your diagnosis and prognosis, did I reject?
Was it because of unbelief?
That death snatched you as a thief.
We could have made the most of the time you had left,
If only we had not been afraid of what we felt.

(Vickie “Cunningham” Wacaster 2002)

Hospice can allow you to make the most of all moments because all the moments matter.

— Vickie C. Wacaster is a Patient and Hospice Advocate for Aveanna Hospice.