Tuesday, March 20, 2007
Hospice Care
Our 85 year old neighbor, Hetty, has been referred from the hospital and admitted into the Hospice facility, as of Sunday. What this typically means is that her doctors have determined that she terminal cancer and has a life expectancy of 6 months or less and therefor qualifies for the Hospice program.

I've visited Hetty twice now, both times just on my own. The first time her husband, Jack, was there. The three of us chatted and Hetty got a bit teary eyed and mentioned that maybe it would be best if she just gave up. Jack quickly chastised her and said, "I thought we agreed not to talk like that anymore."

The second time I visited Hetty, was last night after I got Snuggle Bug down to bed. Thankfully the Hospice facility is close by our house so I was able to get there before 8:30 p.m. and Hetty was still awake and restless. I brought Hetty some fresh baked cookies in the hopes of enticing her to have a bit to eat. She hasn't been eating well lately.

Hetty's battle with cancer these past 15 years has been so hard on Hetty, Jack, and their 2 grown children. This past 6 months has been the roughest because the cancer got into her brain and the radiation treatment she went through has weakened her. She can't walk now.

In the past year almost 2 years that I've known Hetty, her courage and determination have impressed me. Her positive attitude has been inspiring. But now, these past few months, I've had to watch her suffer humiliation at the loss of control and see the hope slowly drain from her spirit. I've heard her fears of dying and leaving her husband of nearly 60 years. I've also heard the fears of Jack, who's not sure what he's going to do without her.

I'm actually glad she's been admitted into Hospice. It's a wonderful program with a holistic approach to the care of people who are actively dying. Pain management is a large part of the care, but spiritual and emotional needs are tended to as well. It's not just about the care of those who are dying, it's also about helping the survivors to cope and work through their own grief. The Hospice staff are very kind to Hetty and are taking good care of her. I used to be a Hospice volunteer many years ago and, listening to Hetty talk about that "nice young man" who makes a point to talk to her (he's a hospice volunteer) so kindly, it's nice to see from the other side how much that volunteering matters. I've always felt the pull to get back into Hospice volunteering and I know I'll do it again soon in the future. For now, I will devote my energies to being there for Hetty and Jack.

Hetty is anxious to return to home and there's a chance that this may happen. Hetty and Jack's children, who live out of state, are working with the Hospice staff to try to arrange in-home care for Hetty. If they can get that figured out, then she will allowed to go home. I believe she wants to die at home, rather than in a hospital or hospice bed. I don't blame her.

You know, all of our days are numbered and only God knows when our time will come. I just hope that if I'm in Hetty's position, facing my mortality and counting down the days until the end, I will have her courage, dignity, and grace in those final hours.

Prayers for Hetty and her family would be much appreciated!

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5:42 AM

At 6:34 AM, Blogger mira said...


And thank you for visiting her...too often others (not family members) are so afraid of their own mortality that the thought of hospice keeps them from visiting with those who need them most. Hugs to you and your friend Hetty.

At 7:12 AM, Blogger Laura said...

I've no words to express what I'm feeling with your post. You're so kind to visit her even not being a family member. Your friend is lucky to have you as friend. Well done.

At 7:19 AM, Blogger Tracey said...

I'm so sorry your friend is suffering, but I'm happy that she has such kind friends and family. I hope all of you can make it through this with a peaceful heart, with no regrets.

At 8:30 AM, Blogger annie said...

We've lost so many older people in the last 6 months. Both Matt's grandmothers and my maternal grandmother. Watching hospice come in and help them is comforting. Those people are angels on earth, and the love they show is amazing. I will pray for your friend and her family.
I heard an analogy when I was a teen about death that has for some reason always comforted me...
As the baby was being born it begged God to stay in the womb, it said, "it's warm in here and I am full and safe." God said, "Just wait until you are born, it will be so much better." The child was born and looked into the eyes of his mother and realized it was so much bigger and better than ever imagined... We are the same way with our death, we don't want to leave our safety and comfort of where we are, but God will be waiting and it will be so much better and bigger than we could ever imagine.


At 9:49 AM, Blogger GLouise said...

I can't imagine fighting cancer for 15 years...I am sure that your visits and support mean more than you'll ever know.

Saying a prayer for Hetty and her family.

At 2:22 PM, Blogger Michelle said...

I'll keep Hetty in my prayers; sounds like she's led a full life with her husband!

At 2:51 PM, Blogger JennaG said...

We were so thankful for hospice care last year when my husband's grandpa was dying. They were so kind to Grandma and she was so grateful for them. Thanks for stopping by--I subscribed to your feed so I can check out the Favorite Ingredients Friday on a regular basis! Have a great evening.

At 7:30 PM, Blogger Kim said...

I'll pray that Hetty gets to go home. I was a hospice nurse for while prior to staying home, and it's so important for many people to be in their own home. When my father in law died, his biggest wish was to "just go home;" he got to and my husband was at his side. Tell Hetty that we're praying for her.

At 8:04 PM, Blogger jdoriot said...

I will certainly be remembering Hetty in my prayers. I think it is so wonderful that you are going to visit with her...so many people find it hard to be around people who are dying. Our son, Gus, passed away this past May and I have often thought that I would like to volunteer in hospice care...it's not so scary to me now. Thanks again for what you do!

At 8:08 AM, Blogger Rosemary Bogdan said...

I will certainly keep Hettie in my prayers.

My sister-in-law died at home under hospice care. My brother described them as inviting "angels into your home."

At 3:00 AM, Blogger ukok said...

I will remember Hettie and Jack in my prayers.

Those enduring terminal illness can teach us so much about the dignity and fortitude that can abound in those who face death.

At 11:19 AM, Blogger Barb said...

Hospice was only something I'd heard about until my mother-in-law was admitted to their care. You're completely right. Only people who are officially terminal are admitted to Hospice and all other forms of medical treatment, except for an accute emergency, are formally stopped. My mother-in-law had cancer and also received radiation to slow the growth of tumors in her brain so that she could regain her balance and have at least some quality of life at the end. The Hospice caregivers came to our home to care for her and the night I called them to say I thought it was almost over, they were there in less than twenty minutes to help her and us through the end.

There are no words to describe these people. They are truly blessings from heaven.


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