12 July 2010

Posts I Am Never Going To Write (Though I Reserve The Right To Change My Mind)

Can you tell that death is on my mind? It has been, ever since my mother was diagnosed with Stage IV lung cancer. I think about her death, which was as "good" a death as they come - at home, with two of her three children at her side (the third would have been there but for the fact that he'd had a baby 14 hours earlier).

I started a post about hospice a long time ago, mostly because I'd come across a paragraph about hospice workers in a comic novel called A Dirty Job, a paragraph that kind of flattened me:

"He turned to see a big, thirtyish woman in scrubs: another hospice worker - another of the amazing women that Charlie had seen in the homes of the dying, helping to deliver them into the next world with as much comfort and dignity and even joy as they could gather - benevolent Valkyries, midwives of the final light, they were - and as Charlie watched them at work, he saw that rather than become detached from, or callous to their job, they because involved with every patient and every family. They were present. He'd seen them grieve with a hundred different families, taking part in an intensity of emotion that most people would feel only a few times in their lives."

Benevolent Valkyries indeed.

Let me just say this: hospice is a good thing, a very good thing. It gives grace to death.

20 comments:

de said...

Yes. I'm trying to work end of life care into my job search, at the administrative level. And you've prompted me to dust off a book that is at the bottom of my night stand, Final Acts, so I can read it next.

de said...

Dusty, indeed. It's Last Acts, by Casarett.

YourFireAnt said...

Amen. I agree. Yes. All that stuff.

T.

nonlineargirl said...

I completely agree. My grandmother's last weeks were under hospice care, and it allowed her to have her end happen where she wanted and without the medical interventions that would not have saved her but would have made her less happy.

(I loved that book, by the way. I keep thinking I should read another of his books. I think he wrote something more recently with the shopgirl from ADJ as the lead.)

coldspaghetti said...

I would love to read more about your thoughts and experience with all four.

Jenn @ Juggling Life said...

It is an amazing thing.

Woman in a Window said...

Hospice is, perhaps, the best way that we know, in our society. I wonder on other societies though. Just curious. We scramble against death so readily, but pain more so. What an incredibly difficult thing to balance living and dying, respect and humanity. Those involved in hospice have a calmness of spirit that I lack. Perhaps it comes? They are some special kind of people.

much love to you, M.
these things don't disappear but become a part of us, the losing of people and the trying to understand it all.

xo
erin

Furrow said...

I somehow got it into my head during college that I wanted to volunteer at a hospice, but I never got up the nerve to actually do it. I've always been impressed with the stories I've heard about the care they give, though.

mayberry said...

oh my goodness, hospice in jail. Those Valkyries must be an even more special breed, if that's possible.

I'm glad hospice helped you and your family.

Janet said...

big hugs to you

Mental P Mama said...

I, too, wish I had the inner peace that all hospice people radiate. But since I don't, I will just remain in awe of everything they do. And hospice in jail would be awesome.

Rima said...

Oh, yes.

flutter said...

hospice was the only graceful thing in my father's death

Gwen said...

It's curious, isn't it? How the hospice nurses can be so loving to so many of the doomed? I wonder how they do that.

Peculiar Whimsy said...

Every Christmas I donate the money that I would have spent on my Dad's holiday gift to Hospice. They are Saints.

Kelley @ magnetoboldtoo said...

Having had the honour to be with 2 of my grandparents as they passed on, one in a hospital and one in hospice I can totally agree with this. The people in the hospice were fabulous and kind and thoughtful. Unlike in the hospital *sigh*

S. said...

I have a high-school friend who was an ICU nurse and from there found his calling in palliative care. I won't link, because his blog (now completed) is pretty intense, but it certainly shocked me into understanding how desperately we need hospice at home to become the standard.

Kelly @ Student of the Year said...

Absolutely. I remember the Phila Inquirer had a series on a hospice nurse some time ago. It was fascinating, and showed how end-of-life care is so much more than what happens at the final moments. It's about pain-relief, family therapy, and on and on. Those workers have my utmost respect and admiration.

Carry said...

Well, i wanted to volunteer at a hospice, but I never got up the nerve to actually do it. I've always been impressed with the stories I've heard about the care they give, though, anyway thanx for posting.

mames said...

I work hospice and that paragraph just left me with tears sliding down my face.... what a beautiful way to say it.
I am sorry for your loss. I am glad that you were able to be with her and that they helped you, your mother and your family.