November’s National Hospice and Palliative Care Month is a Good Time to Plan Ahead
A longtime Hospice of the North Coast (HNC) supporter recently lost his wife of 62 years. Thankfully, the illness that terminated her life was brief and, for the most part, free of pain.
Her beloved husband’s anguish was lessened by knowing he made the right decision at the end. They both had Advanced Care Directives with Do Not Resuscitate mandates. But unsure of what to do in this most delicate of life’s transitions, he asked the doctor, “What would you do if this were your wife or mother?” The doctor gently replied, without hesitation, “Let her go.” So he did.
Despite the fact that most people (many health professionals included!) don’t want to think or talk about it, death has been a fact of life since Earth began. To ensure that you and your loved ones are able to die on your own terms, I encourage you to use November’s National Hospice and Palliative Care Month as an occasion to open lines of communication. And take positive action.
Most people say they want to pass peacefully at home. Sadly, many don’t, due in part to lack of advanced planning. They die in hospital intensive care units surrounded by machines instead of transitioning in a warm, home or homelike environment surrounded by family, friends and pets.
As a clinically trained hospice clinician and someone who has lost loved ones, I know the difference hospice can make in helping the terminally ill die in comfort and dignity. As HNC’s Executive Director, I know the difference that an intimate, patient-centric, community hospice such as ours can make. We began as a tiny group of congregants organized to help care for a dying patient in her home. In 1980, only 12 years after the concept of hospice was introduced in the U.S., Hospice of the North Coast was established. Since then, we have passionately and compassionately pursued our mission of helping people have a peaceful life-through-death experience.
And really, isn’t that what all of us want?