Tag Archives: dying

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.

She Walked in Faith

16 Feb

I lost my beautiful friend this week. Though I am mourning her loss, I rejoice that her time here is done. She is free from the bondage’s of this world and she is with Jesus.

I feel so blessed that for my comfort and grief, I have my faith, God’s promises, and beautiful friendships to keep my heart set straight.

There is promise in the words of our Father, Hope in our Savior and Peace in the Holy Spirit.

Psalm 34:18(NIV)
18 The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.

John 16:22 (NIV)
22 So with you: Now is your time of grief, but I will see you again and you will rejoice, and no one will take away your joy.

I want to share some inspiring thoughts on my friend: She touched lives, she loved unconditionally and she walked her talk. We are all broken, but we are all given amazing gifts, as well. Jill’s gifts were Encourager, Mercy and Giver and the Fruits of the Holy Spirit were evident in her.

Jill was so beautiful in spirit, she shone with love; His Great Love. Jill was incredibly kind, humble and she was a stinker. Jill made me laugh, and I made her laugh,what a precious laugh and wicked sense of humor she had, too. Most of all, she loved the Lord with all her heart and wanted everyone around her to feel loved. Jill was not perfect, (to me, she was) but she had flaws like the rest of us. (There is no one without fault, you will always fall short). You will never achieve wholeness until you arrive in Heaven, then you will be made whole.

My thoughts have been around who we are called to be, who we are to one another, what our responsibility to one another is and walking our faith. This world is so unkind, so unforgiving sometimes. We will be disappointed many times, by many people (there is scripture for that, as well). We are to forgive. We cannot walk this world with hate in our hearts. Hate will destroy our peace and our relationships, especially with Christ. True, we are saved from our sins by Grace, we do not pay for our sins by God’s Great Mercy, yet we are called to walk within that belief, as well. We can’t perfect it, we can never be good enough to earn our way into heaven, we can never be flawless, but we know our Savior, we know who we are called to be and we are directed to walk in that faith.

Ephesians 5:15 (AMP)
15 Look carefully then how you walk! Live purposefully and worthily and accurately, not as the unwise and witless, but as wise (sensible, intelligent people),

This walk means you stumble,fall,and start back on your knees tomorrow. This walk means you focus on His teachings and allow Him to soften you, to take your sin from you, one by one. This walk means you allow yourself to be convicted, to learn, to grow. You let go of shame, judgement and self righteousness. You learn to walk like Jesus; obedient and with Love. You allow yourself to be transformed, little by little. You become more and more whole, more centered. You heal and then you become the light you are meant to be. You find your gifts and you share them with the world.

“As a believer, your question is no longer what do I want to do, but rather What do YOU want me to do, [God]?” (Pastor Mark Ragsdale)

Jesus loved; Jesus loved everyone. Imitation is the sincerest form of gratitude and humble appreciation for our salvation.

Jill loved; Jill loved everyone.