Hospice caregiving and love
by Valerie Hartman
Mr. and Mrs. T were married for 65 years when hospice care was arranged for Mr. T at home. He had cancer, bone pain, felt weak, and since he had practiced stoicism since his tour of duty in WWII, he rarely complained. He started having restless nights after he returned from war, so his wife took it upon herself to monitor his sleep. His rest improved over the years under her watchful eye, because she made it a habit to wake him at the first sign of a bad dream. She cared for him in the last weeks of his life with the same skill she developed while overseeing his dreams. She was attentive, on duty, sensitive to every non verbal sign of discomfort, and had the communication style that brought him dignity and security each changing day. Mrs. T needed the support of the hospice team to manage everything that was changing day-to-day, and that allowed her to provide the kind of care she knew best, the care she provided out of loving her husband year after year.
Love is rarely mentioned in hospice team meeting as a strategy for comfort, relief of anxiety, or providing security. Although the principles of loving care (compassion, understanding the nature of someone), do underlie every action in end-of-life care decisions.
Caregiving requires a true sense of knowing the likes, dislikes, and nuances of an individual, and being sensitive to those needs. Familiar hands, familiar voices and actions increase calm and decrease fear in everyday hospice routines. And while the hospice team relies on the family member to help them understand the details of their loved one, the hospice team also recognizes the need to provide support and care for the family member. This approach to hospice care allows families to be present for the moments that have deep meaning, without being so overwhelmed that they miss those significant moments.
Today Caring with Confidence wants to recognize the relationships that bring peace and comfort simply by the nature of family, and your very presence at a difficult time.
We found some Valentine’s quotes to recognize that the greatest feelings of love can surface in the simplest and most cherished actions in hospice caregiving…
“Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength, while loving someone deeply gives you courage.” ~ Lao Tsu
“We can do no great things. Only small things with great love.” ~ Mother Teresa
“Love is the strongest force the world possesses, and yet it is the humblest imaginable.” ~ Mahatma Gandhi
“May no gift be too small to give, nor too simple to receive, which is wrapped in thoughtfulness and tied with love.” ~ L.O. Baird