Hospice and Palliative Care Month
November is always a special month for the professionals that I work with in hospice because it is the national month dedicated to Hospice and Palliative Care. The designation of a month for this purpose may not have much meaning to the general public, but I am certain that it means something extremely special to those who have been touched by the gift of hospice at the time of a loved one’s death.
Hospice, like many things in life, probably falls into the category of something we don’t want to know about until we’re faced with a situation when it is actually needed. In fact I know that there are many who don’t really understand what hospice is at all, even if they have heard the name.
Through the journey that life takes us on, I have found myself blessed to be a manager in hospice. I see the miracles that the hospice angels perform. They are smart, they have heart, and these are paired with knowledge that is specialized for comfort and symptom management. Added to this, they are unbelievably well prepared for handling the other 80% of suffering that has nothing to do with physical symptoms. They deal with teaching the husband that the energy he is expending hiding his disease symptoms from his family might be better spent in having the incredibly courageous conversations he will need to have if he is to find peace when time is short. They deal with the broken lives, broken families, and address the pain that pills don’t alleviate.
Hospice workers also have a very unique ability. It is the gift that I admire and love most about them. They sincerely love their patients. Yep, it’s true. They find in their hearts the path to love even in the face of the sure and evident knowledge that those they love will die, shortly and swiftly. What kind of courage does that take? I stand in continual awe. They love and lose, over and over and over again. As one might expect it takes a very special healthcare professional to make it in hospice. Those who don’t deal with the ups and downs of love and lose very well usually don’t make it. But the strong and steady, who choose hospice work for their profession, stay and courageously show up day after day – they treat symptoms, support broken relationships, love patients, and then repeat it again and again.
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