I went to the birthday party of my almost 90-year-old hospice patient yesterday. It was my idea to hold a party early in celebration of his life so that his family could gather to honor and support him; he had been feeling less well and more in need of his family in the last week or so, asking for them to come.
And so they did, several grandchildren and children, and a few members of the hospice team, gathered in his room, laughing and sharing wonderful memories through tears. We even sang and had cake, because that's what we do for birthdays, even if everyone was a little choked up to sing and eat. And our inspiring hospice chaplain led everyone in a prayer to acknowledge and thank the patient for what he had been to them.
It really is the reason I got into hospice, to bring people together during the dying process. So often, it doesn't happen as well as it did yesterday. I hope it brought comfort to them all and eases my patient's exit.
For me, it was a wonderful reminder to celebrate every chance I get.