what you hope for. And the most you can do is live
inside that hope.” (Barbara Kingsolver)
Jan had always wanted to drive to Prince Edward Island, but it is a trip that she never had the opportunity to take. She always imagined she would find time someday, but then her health started to fail, and Jan learned that the end of her life was near.
Jan fantasized about the trip she had long dreamed of taking. With the help of her hospice nurse and her home health aide, she was able to look at tourist brochures, maps, guide books, and restaurant reviews. She was planning a dream vacation with the awareness that it was a trip that could only be traveled in her imagination. This not only gave Jan hope by giving her something to look forward to in the ways that she could, it was a comfort for her family to see her relive past travels and imagine this new one.
Hope, the feeling that things wanted can be had, or that events will turn out for the best, is at the heart of hospice care. Hope is an essential part of the hospice experience, as patients are able to be free from pain, to complete important personal tasks, and to be supported in personal choices and wishes. The goals of hope may differ from family to family, but there can always be opportunities for reunion, reminiscence and peace.
Adam was a professor of horticulture and had an incredibly beautiful garden around his home. He died peacefully at home with his wife and two young daughters by his side. While they were waiting for the funeral home to arrive, the girls asked the hospice nurse if they could go outside to gather some flowers for their father. The hospice nurse agreed that would be a lovely idea, and then stepped away to make a few phone calls. When she returned, the room was absolutely filled with beautiful flowers of every type and color. Adam’s daughters were able to send him off surrounded with their love in a very special way. They were a close family, and spoke openly of their love for one another. They were able to prepare for his death and allow Adam to die in his own home surrounded by his beautiful family and his beautiful gardens.
Hospice offers compassionate and dignified care for a patient and their loved ones during a life limiting illness. The hospice team provides care that enhances the quality of life, through symptom management, pain relief, and attention to social, spiritual, religious and emotional needs. A primary goal is always to respect the decisions that each individual makes in regards to their own end of life journey. With a skilled and caring team of nurses, social workers, chaplains, home health aides and volunteers, hospice offers a range of ways to meet the individual needs and hopes of those in our care.
For Jan that meant an imaginary trip to a place that she had always wanted to go to. For Adam, he was given the gift of ending his journey at home with everyone he loved.
Special Thanks to Odyssey/VistaCare, one of the nation’s premier hospice groups, for providing this article.