Archive | October, 2019

A Case for Hospice

19 Oct

By Beckie Halaska

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No one wants to hear the word terminal.  We hang on to hope, we deny it, we ignore it, we avoid it.  I have this conversation with families that are not ready to process that word. Not ready to hear the word Hospice. These are very difficult words to process.  From a daughter’s perspective, let me say, I understand.

Some of us will be fortunate enough and slip away, gently in our sleep, some will leave us by accident. Most of us however, will face an illness that will eventually cause our demise.

The absolute truth is that we cannot escape death. We can however begin to embrace it and somehow do good in it. We can mourn it and celebrate the days left along with our loved one. We can talk about it; We can support one another through the journey; We can celebrate every day of life even more.

I work in Hospice, yet, Hospice still remained a difficult discussion for me, and with my family.  Hospice is a word that instills fear because it sounds like death. It does mean acceptance of the end. Truth is, when hospice is brought on board in a timely fashion, they can help you begin your end of life journey, living to the fullest with the time you have left. I strongly advocated for Hospice to be on-board as soon as possible, beginning the discussion as soon as we heard “Metastatic”.  It’s not easy being that person, but I know from my past history with hospice, what a blessing it can be.

From a daughter’s perspective, my mother lives 3 hours north of me. As she has become more frail the past couple years, I do my best to come see her frequently, to spend time with her.  Before Hospice, I didn’t come every weekend. I came when it was more convenient for me, I suppose. I was still able to take my mom for granted. Which is a place of comfort for most of us.

My greatest gift of hospice, so far has been no longer taking her for granted. I spend every weekend with her that my siblings are not having one on one time with her. My conversations with her have been more important. Sometimes, she simply just holds my hand and looks at my face as if memorizing it. Everything  has become more important.

Now we are slowly transitioning to the last days. She is weak, mostly sleeping. Now we watch her sleep. Waiting. Waiting for her to need something, or wake up and want to talk.  My stepdad and her sit holding hands and speaking gently to one another.

When I got the call yesterday, telling me I needed to come, driving the 3 hours through a tropical storm to get here, was just added stress. Seeing that the symptoms were progressing rapidly and we had a sudden decline, this is the case for hospice: I had a number to call, someone to talk to. I had a nurse at bedside within an hour. We had new equipment, new medications, new plans of support. We had symptoms managed and new reassurances that everything was okay again.  We had peace. If I were to describe our evening now, it would be tranquil.

This is the case for hospice. This is my passion. This is the reason I want everyone to know what the beauty of Hospice is. My mother isn’t “in hospice”, Hospice is not a place. It is a service that is provided where ever a patient calls home. My mother is on Hospice Services: She is in her own bed, in her own room, in her own home, with her family lovingly supporting her. We have help at the other end of a phone call. We have support, education and medications to make her very comfortable. (She still is not on Morphine, another myth). She has just days to a couple weeks left. Only God knows this answer. She is still the energizer bunny, strong fighter that she has always been.  She is sleeping comfortably with us nearby. We read to her, we talk with her, we watch her sleep. We rest, we visit, we process.

Oh, what a joy, to share this precious time with her. What a blessing to support my stepdad in his care for her. There is nothing more precious than a really good, timely referral to hospice. I will never stop advocating for this amazing blessing… And I get to do this for a living.

Follow The Leader

15 Oct

 

How many times have I held myself hostage to shame or guilt; Lost sleep over things I have said or done, things I wish I had done differently?
How many times have I sat in sorrow, feeling like I have blown it all; Blown God’s blessings for me, messed up and knew He must be so disappointed?
How many times will I question whether I am being punished by Him?
How many times do I question my own belief; How many times will I feel too hypocritical? Like I am supposed to be better than I am doing.
How many times will I be offended or feel resentful over things, hurt by rejection or presumed being unchosen?
How many times do we say, I have to do better, be better, watch my words, grab hold of my sins and fix them?
How many times do we want to do the right thing and ask God over and over, “what is your plan”, “what do you want me to do”, “Open doors, close doors”, and become frustrated because He didn’t answer. Maybe it didn’t matter? Maybe it was more about submission than the outcome.

No More!

This is probably the most powerful truth we can grasp. He wants to be in a close relationship with us. He wants to know us. He wants us to know Him.  To submit our will to Him, our independence to Him, our need to fix life, fix people, fix ourselves achieve stuff, to Him and Him alone. To have a real relationship with Him.

If we believe that Christ was the sacrificial lamb, who died and rescued us from the punishment for our sins, that his death was merciful and complete; Why do we throw that away and reclaim the hopelessness of being judged by the law?

The Sermon on the Mount is so powerful in the expression of the true consequence of our belief. If we judge sin, we will be judged by the law. If we surrender sin, we will be washed clean. Surrendering our ability to do to the one that already did, is powerful and because of our ego, very difficult to do. We don’t have to be perfect to know Him. We just have to know Him, seek Him. We begin to fill up with Him, through His word, through prayer, through being still and letting the words wash over us, by journalling, with praise of Him, worship of Him.

Take your tears, your anger, your brokenness, your fear, your hopes, your wishes, your control, your illness, your insecurity, your anxiety, your hopelessness, your joy; take this all to Him. He knows everything and still loves you enough to take it all away and make you new. Build you back up, create in you a new mind, a new heart, a new hope.

If we don’t trust God with our complete hope, we fall short. We, the ones trying to do the impossible-becoming perfect, or running away so fast because we are imperfect, we need to remember who is the only one that will ever be perfect. And learn what His love and death for us, did for us.

We are all sinners.
All are welcomed by God.
We love ourselves and love this world best when we begin with loving God and accept His love in return.
We don’t turn from our sin and with this perfected new self, accept Christ and His Grace and Mercy.
We turn to Him, the only one, that can rescue us and transform us by our own submission to Him

It isn’t those that worked so hard at changing their sins and being good, that will be known by Him.  The ones that knew they couldn’t do anything without having a deep and trusting relationship with our Lord, will be known.

We are so unworthy, every one of us, to sit in Heaven with God, but He chose you, not because your so great, or so perfect, not to be the judge, or the next teacher; not to be the next amazing, not to be the next best, but to be loved by Him, for Him, for this world.

He will transform you, rebuild you, for His purpose. He will not leave that work undone. He did not say you will not leave the work undone. He did not say reject those people, judge those sins as abomination. He said be a light in the world. Know you are a sinner yourself and from that joy of forgiveness, let other’s see what grace is and does.

When the townspeople were set to stone the woman for adultery, Jesus taught the message of let the one without sin, throw the first stone. No one could. But don’t miss the second part of that message. Everyone left, leaving the woman alone there. Jesus is the only one that didn’t leave that woman alone in her sin. He loved her so much even in her sinful state of being an adulterer. He didn’t judge her. He instructed her to not sin any longer. I would love to know her testimony from that rescue, that love, that welcoming.

This is what it means to follow Him. Follow His examples of prayer, of relationship to the Father, to surrender and submit over and over and over again.

Grace cannot be earned; Grace is not the goal. Grace is the gift, the fulfillment of requirements, someone else took the punishment of your sins for you. Grace is the invitation to join Jesus in a relationship.  ALL are welcome to this.

This relationship will be harder, not easier. Submission is hard. God transforms you, and it can be difficult to be healed in many ways.  Remember though; In the perfect garden, Eden, where all needs were supplied, where God walked as a friend, Eve chose deception for more than all supplied needs and God as a friend and Adam chose to please Eve and blame everyone. We are built this way; Imperfect creatures. You are never going to be perfect. Not ever.

Knowing who God is, knowing He loves you, letting that fill your heart, letting that move you and guide you; trusting in Him, through every up and down, every betrayal, every trial, every loss… That is where your purpose and your freedom is found. That is where joyful living begins and endless pursuit of happiness ends.

“For sin will no longer be a master over you, since you are not under Law [as slaves], but under [unmerited] grace [as recipients of God’s favor and mercy].”

ROMANS 6:14 AMP

https://www.bible.com/bible/1588/rom.6.14.amp

“Jesus returned to the Mount of Olives, but early the next morning he was back again at the Temple. A crowd soon gathered, and he sat down and taught them. As he was speaking, the teachers of religious law and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in the act of adultery. They put her in front of the crowd. “Teacher,” they said to Jesus, “this woman was caught in the act of adultery. The law of Moses says to stone her. What do you say?” They were trying to trap him into saying something they could use against him, but Jesus stooped down and wrote in the dust with his finger. They kept demanding an answer, so he stood up again and said, “All right, but let the one who has never sinned throw the first stone!” Then he stooped down again and wrote in the dust. When the accusers heard this, they slipped away one by one, beginning with the oldest, until only Jesus was left in the middle of the crowd with the woman. Then Jesus stood up again and said to the woman, “Where are your accusers? Didn’t even one of them condemn you?” “No, Lord,” she said. And Jesus said, “Neither do I. Go and sin no more.” ———-”

John 8:1-11 NLT

https://www.bible.com/bible/116/jhn.8.1-11.nlt

Sermon on the Mount is Matthew 5-7. I encourage you to read this.

https://www.bible.com/bible/116/mat.5.1.nlt

Precious Time

1 Oct

I broke a mug today.  Not a big deal on most days, but this morning, my broken mug became my catalyst for a good cry.

This is a daughter’s hospice story. This is end of life. Finding joy and grief so intertwined. This is love.

As my mother nears her end of life, I am still learning from her. She is still the teacher. Her peace is calming, reassuring. Her strength still shows, though her body is so frail, the strength of this woman’s soul is very present. Her faith rock solid.

Tears fall, but there is also a smile in my heart.  Grief is like that. My siblings and I are all gifted this precious time with her. Each of us spending our one on one time with our beautiful mom; To care for her, sit with her, talk with her as months turn to weeks and weeks to days.

My mom has done the unimaginable in this life. I think I am only really seeing ALL she has done in her lifetime because I can’t take her for granted any longer. I am so blessed to have this time with her, to have the gift of complete awareness of my mother, who she is.

Born with a heart defect, I think there was a part of us that always worried we would lose our mom. I also think ,because she always seemed to just take stuff in stride and bounce back, we grew to believe she would beat everything that came her way.  I think it made it hard for us to see our mom aging even.

As kids, the thought of losing our mom wasn’t even remotely an option for us being that our dad was not able to care for us with early onset Alzheimer’s. My mom didn’t have options, she still had little ones to raise. My mom always just did what needed to be done. She even crossed a picket line to feed her babies and keep a roof over their heads. She worked 4 jobs. We as a family learned what teamwork was and what hard work and tenacity can do. We also learned to enjoy life. We learned to value one another. What I find so remarkable is that she actually went back to school and got her Master’s plus 40. She is so amazing!

Through all of this trial and difficulty, she remained elegant and kind: Proud and strong. She beat breast cancer, she had oblation for her heart defect, collapsed vertebrae and ocular melanoma (her metastasis is from this, 16 years later, crazy!)  She never stopped, never stopped pushing through. I think there is a part of us that keeps think she will push through this too…

But she won’t.  Our beautiful mama, our energizer bunny is tired and even though it’s hard, it is well with my soul.

This is the gift of just being, of allowing and accepting my mother’s end of life instead of fighting it. Being strong doesn’t only mean choosing medical interventions, robbing one of quality.  This time of embracing my mother’s ending has been a gift. A beautiful gift of valuing and enriching this incredibly important relationship.  I could not be more inspired to do what I do every single day.

God is getting a pretty amazing angel soon, but not yet.  Today we still get the gift of more time.  I dry my tears, and I smile because today I get to do, be, affect, love, laugh, cry, feel. Today, I still get to call my mom and say, “Hi mama, I love you”.

“You matter because you are you, and you matter to the end of your life.”

-Dame Cicely Saunders