Thursday, March 5, 2015

Celebration

My hospice patient is hanging on.  I've said goodbye to him three times now--thanking him for our time together and wishing him peace--each time thinking I wouldn't see him again. He's uncomfortable and waiting to die.  But he's still there in the nursing home.  On Tuesday, I kept up some light conversation, said a few prayers (a metta meditation and the Lord's prayer), and sang several songs.  He really liked "Amazing Grace."  And Elvis's "Love Me Tender."

He has said he wants his children there "when the time comes," though he didn't want to bore them with waiting.  But he realizes now that it's time.  And he was asking for them again.  "Why aren't they here yet?"  So, knowing it is his (big) birthday next week, I suggested an early birthday party to bring everyone together and perhaps pass the milestone together early. I passed it on up the hospice team hierarchy and people liked the idea.  I thought they'd do it some evening this week, but perhaps with the snow . . . .

Anyway, it's on Sunday.  Some extra out-of-town/state family members are coming in for it, I think. And I've been invited!  I'll be glad to celebrate his life and birthday with his family and other hospice team members. Even if it means saying goodbye again.

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I just read a great article about being a hospice volunteer in the NYTimes by Ann Neumann; it sums up a lot of my own feelings:

I couldn’t change the fact that people were dying, but I could make their dying easier.
My job as a hospice volunteer is to reassure patients that there’s no right or wrong way to die. I’ve learned to be attentive and patient, to divine their last requests from their actions and concerns. No two patients are alike. Every last request is specific and unique. Fulfilling them feels like a small blessing — not just to these patients, but to me.

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