Death is always an interruption. Whether you’ve been planning for it for months since a loved one was diagnosed with congestive heart failure or it came on suddenly after your 40-year old son was diagnosed with cancer, there’s never enough time left. This lack of time often leaves something unfinished. There’s always that wish for one last hug, one last back rub or one last deep belly laugh before you say goodbye.

What Services Does Hospice Provide

When these final moments are near, many families call in hospice. But, what is it? What benefits does hospice care provide? In asking these questions, we often consider this as a program for the person who is dying. After all, it does offer comfort and relief from physical pain for the patient. However, it’s easy to sometimes forget that this journey isn’t about the patient alone. It’s much more about living each moment than it is about dying. Moments lived are moments spent with the people we love. Many elements of hospice are designed to provide equal support for family members who are also on this journey. People who are hoping to find opportunities to smile rather than only worrying about saying goodbye. 

What Happens when Hospice is Called In?

Any effective hospice care program is there to support a person throughout the dying process. However, it’s a misconception to think that the hospice care team is simply there to come in and take over. In fact, the most effective hospice care plan includes the family. It strives to teach and support rather than make care decisions.

Family Support Through Hospice Care

It is because of this that, perhaps, the true beauty of hospice care at home is that it gives all family members the opportunity to enjoy those last moments more. Knowing that a loved one is free from pain and in the comfort of home is truly a gift. Hospice brings peace to the entire family unit. Knowing that a professional team is there to help guide decisions, teach a family how to confidently give the best care possible and provide support in managing pain and discomfort makes it possible to feel a little less overwhelmed. All this gives families more confidence in spending time making memories and the freedom to enjoy time together.

A Family’s Role in Hospice Care

A family’s role in hospice care is of primary importance. The hospice team realizes the challenges that families face throughout this time, and we are here to guide, educate and support you. Throughout the process, family members make a commitment – whether that means spending time by their loved one’s side, mending a relationship or honoring important wishes and goals. All the while, the hospice nurses, doctors, chaplain and social workers are there to encourage, listen, support and when necessary, provide professional guidance. Our doctors and nurses will also assist your loved one with pain management so that it’s easier for you to spend time with them, rather than focusing exclusively on their illness. 

Salus’ Orange County hospice team appreciates the skills, abilities and strengths of each family caregiver. We work with the family to hone these skills, use them in the most effective ways and find a path that brings the family unit together. With this support, families discover strength. They maintain hope through tears. They learn to laugh during trying times.

Normalizing the Dying Process

Normalizing the dying process is both difficult for a family caregiver to do and essential. Take some time to ask your loved one how they want to die and what wishes they might have after their death. Use these moments to discuss important and practical matters such as your loved one’s will or financial matters. Doing this can help you to feel less helpless. It also ensures that your loved one’s wishes and goals are respected and heard. 

In addition to your Salus Orange County hospice team, it’s sometimes beneficial to hire an end of life doula, or a death doula, for this purpose. This is a person who compliments the emotional and spiritual support provided by hospice, sometimes spending hours at a terminally ill patient’s bedside. They also help care for stressed-out family caregivers in their time of need. 

After Death Care

When a loved one’s life journey is complete, hospice grief counselors remain by the family’s side to listen and offer comfort. Focused support throughout the grieving process can last for many months. This essential service promotes healing. It helps family members to move on with grace and comfort. Counseling also gives them permission to express feelings of anger, frustration or sadness and helps them to discover the benefits of continuing on their own journey without ever forgetting the person that they love.

Much like birth, death is a part of your family’s unique life story. While difficult to embrace, it’s important to cope with it. Recognize and respect your values and choices. The entire family is part of that process. Salus Hospice Orange County is here to help. We’ll wrap you with the support you need to find hope, healing and your own path forward. Give us a call, and let’s figure this out together.