end of life

Hospice & New Beginnings

I don’t know about you, but when I think of hospice care I think about, well, death. Aren’t hospice nurses people you enlist when there’s no hope left, and you just want to make the end of life as comfortable as possible for your loved one? If hospice is indeed synonymous with death, then why would I title this blog entry Hospice & New Beginnings?

Well, for a few reasons. 

First, I recently signed up to become a hospice volunteer. My friend Emily at The Awareness Movement told me how much hospice volunteering impacted her life, and it sounded like a good cause. I liked hearing her stories about people’s final moments: their hopes, fears, & regrets. And of course where there’s a story, there’s a writer waiting to record it. =ME! So hospice is a brand new beginning in my life.

Secondly, as I learned at my first weekend of volunteer training, hospice care definitely does *not* have to be an elective option best left until the very end. In fact, I’d now encourage anyone who qualifies for hospice (or their family members) to seize the moment directly! Not only is it covered by most insurance plans, but all of a sudden you get a whole team of amazing people at your doorstep who want to help make sure YOU are able to make the most of every single day, disease and sickness be damned! In fact, patients can even graduate from hospice when they get better--so, far from a death sentence, it’s a new beginning!

I can’t wait to help families record their loved ones’ life stories. Dr. Atul Gawande leaves us with these 5 great starter questions to get your grandpa/mother/brother/daughter talking!

1. What is your understanding of where you are and of your illness?

2. Your fears or worries for the future?

3. Your goals and priorities?

4. What outcomes are unacceptable to you? What are you willing to sacrifice and not?

5. What would a good day look like?