The Hospice Suitcase: Support for the End-of-Life Journey
We often talk about life as a journey from birth to death; the experiences, relationships, and milestones in each phase become a series of trips forming the itinerary of our own grand tour. Like so many travel snapshots and tourist-shop trinkets, our memories remind us where we’ve been, what we’ve done and how we became who we are.
We joke about how much easier it would all be if only we had a good travel guide to plan our connections, keep us on schedule and tell us what to pack. This is perhaps most true for the last leg of our trip, as it is rarely one we start intentionally or ever feel adequately prepared to take.
Hearing that you have a life-limiting condition can feel like the plane you were taking to your intended destination suddenly crashed, and you now find yourself alone in an unknown location with nothing but the clothes on your back. You may feel bewildered. Scared. Angry. And at a loss about what step to take next.
As you stumble through the unknown, imagine finding a suitcase. There’s nothing in it that can change the situation in which you find yourself, but it contains everything you need to navigate this new place and make it home.
For people who have six months or less to live, entering Cascade Health Hospice is like being given such a suitcase. Filled with a team of experts, volunteers, services, and resources focused on your comfort and quality of life, your hospice suitcase contains the physical, emotional, social, and spiritual support you and your family can use to navigate the challenges you face on the road ahead.
Every suitcase contains the trained personnel, medications, and medical equipment needed to manage your symptoms and keep you comfortable. Your suitcase includes 24/7 access to an on-call nurse, emotional support and grief counseling, spiritual guidance and alternative care services such as massage. It might include training and guidance for family caregivers, assistance with personal care and errands and the option of respite care stays in the beautiful Pete Moore Hospice House.
As you travel, the contents of your suitcase are constantly updated and replenished – you can add or remove services to find the combination that works best for you. And you can take your suitcase with you wherever you are most comfortable – a private residence, a senior living community, a skilled nursing facility or our hospice house.
When we near the end of life, we all want to fit as much love and joy as we can into the time we have left. Hospice doesn’t hasten or postpone natural death; it can’t change prognoses or rewind time. But it can pack your suitcase with the tools and support you need to make important end-of-life decisions and enjoy the time you have left with those you love to the greatest extent possible.