Hospice nurses are often asked how they can work in their profession and spend so much time around people who are dying. This question is so common because many people fear death. They also fail to understand the purpose and value of hospice care. Perhaps there is no time of year that this question comes up more often than around the holidays. Many of us spend more time with family members during this time of year, and the idea of spending a “last Christmas” with a cherished loved one brings with it thoughts of sadness and even fear.
Your Last Holiday Season Together
It’s true that if you have a loved one coping with a serious medical diagnosis right now, this may be the last Christmas season you spend with them. This might mean that you’re celebrating a deep rooted family tradition for the last time, or it could mean that your table and even holiday celebrations will look much different next year. But, to assume that this has to be a sad or depressing Christmas or Hanukkah season is a mistake.
Living Life in Hospice
While the goal of hospice is to provide comfort to an individual who is coping with a medical condition and has decided to not continue with curative treatments, it is so much more than that. For some, hospice is the first opportunity in a long time that they’ve been given to truly live. They get to focus on making memories, spending time with loved ones and laughing or crying about cherished moments from the past. In that way, a holiday in hospice is a time for celebrating a life well lived, saying things to loved ones that you’ve been meaning to say for years and even healing relationships that you believed were past the point of healing.
With the support of a professional hospice team, your doctor and nurse, social worker, chaplain and trained volunteers, you are empowered to shift your focus away from managing pain and disease symptoms. This means more time to laugh with your loved one, enjoy those holiday traditions, and try something new, create new memories and unforgettable moments together.
When you think of spending time in hospice during the holiday season in this way, it’s easy to see that it’s really not sad at all. These days and weeks can be filled with life, and they might even be more meaningful than any holiday you’ve enjoyed in the past.
In closing, the message from all of this is that we should all find opportunities to spend more time living life like a hospice patient. During the holidays, instead of focusing so much on shopping for gifts and putting up ornaments, make this time about spending time with others. Make it about creating memories and remembering what family is all about. In this way, we can learn a true lesson from a hospice patient – a lesson about living a better life and never taking the people and things that matter most to us for granted.
Salus Homecare wishes you and yours a very Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah and a most cherished holiday season.