As I look out my window the trees are beginning to show signs of changing color, fall is giving way to winter and the temperature this morning was barely in the 40s. The children are back in school, and I have to remind myself that I must slow down now in the school zone. We have had a relatively hot summer as I remember, and parts of me embrace the change to the cooler temperatures, I’ve enjoyed the autumn breeze, and now must brace myself for the upcoming winter. I have lived in the Northwest most of my life and these rhythms of change from spring, to summer, to fall and then winter is coming as expected. Each season moves to the next and as we enjoy one season, we still have part of us that is looking forward to the next. But what do we do when the normal pattern of life is interrupted? This question can be extremely difficult especially when the interruption is a terminal diagnosis. Now, our normal seasons of life have landed on winter and there is no longer any hope of spring. Many can feel abandoned or alone in this situation. “What do we do now?” and “Who can we turn to?” are questions that cross our minds.
One of the most excruciating moments for our health providers comes at this time. They have taken an oath to do all they can to heal and now have to realize that they cannot offer any more hope for cure. I remember very well the day my mom was diagnosed with lung cancer. Her journey was difficult as my sister and I had little knowledge of what to do or where to turn. My mother tried chemotherapy, but the treatment was too difficult, and she decided to not pursue any further aggressive treatment. Our family did the best we could, but we sure wish we would have had more help.
It would be years later that I would join the hospice team at Assured Hospice in Moses Lake as a chaplain. What a discovery to find that there was a team of dedicated and compassionate people who were uniquely trained and most importantly have the heart to make the winter season of someone’s life full of meaning while managing the difficult journey towards death with comfort and dignity. I have seen firsthand how our team can make a tremendous difference and impact for patients and families. I wished I would have understood the caring and compassionate care offered with hospice years ago. I had always thought that hospice meant that someone would come for the last few days of a patient’s life and hold their hand until they died.
Hospice care is so much more than that. It is first and foremost a pathway to help patients and families give their loved one the opportunity to fully live at home that include being free of pain with their illness under control throughout the dying process. Coping with a terminal illness can be overwhelming, but with the help of Hospice patients and family can focus on what is really important – enjoying life together and living as fully as possible. A hospice team wants to be with a patient from the first moment of being diagnosed to the last moments of a patient’s precious life. Hospice provides the tools of skilled nurses, chaplains, social workers, bath aides and volunteers to help the patients, families and caregivers have the support they deserve.
If you or someone you know could have added value to their last season of life, please consider calling us at Assured Hospice for a consultation. We would love to introduce you to our team of dedicated professionals to help you help the ones you love.
For more information about Assured Hospice of Moses Lake, please call 509.766.2580.
Written by Paul Riegel, Chaplain and Patient Care Representative, Assured Hospice