Whether or not you had an actual conversation with your loved one about their end-of-life wishes, here you are: a hospice caregiver. You probably never expected this job, and whether it is a joy, a duty, or a heart-wrenching, difficult task—or all three—it is probably a tad easier if you know that the hospice patient you care for chose this path.
The Conversation Project is a website, an on-line community, and an invaluable tool to help families have the sometimes uncomfortable discussion about their end-of-life wishes. Ideally, this conversation happens when everyone is well and not during a medical crisis. But realistically, even when all is well, no one really wants to talk about death or serious incapacitation. Read more
By Ron King, Hospice Chaplain
When a hospice patient or family member expresses doubt or guilt about hoping death will come quickly and ask what God might think, we face a hard decision together. It isn’t a question that can be answered with medical or scientific certainty. Different opinions and convictions may prevail in the same house or even in the same person from one moment to the next. Moral codes and spiritual practices fail to provide a definite and satisfying solution. Past experience is rarely helpful and advice we seek is often contradictory. Still, we seek out some authoritative answer or reliable guidance to help us navigate a host of conflicting thoughts and feelings. Read more
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. Read more
By Cameron Von St. James
Cameron Von St. James is an experienced caregiver for a loved one with advanced illness, in this case, his wife, Heather.
My wife is a cancer survivor. Seven years ago, she was diagnosed with a rare lung cancer called mesothelioma. Ever since then, she has devoted much of her time to sharing her story with others currently fighting cancer. I realized that my story as a caregiver could also be very beneficial to those caring for those cancer fighters. The journey can feel very lonely, so I hope that others can be comforted by reading my story. Read more