At this time of year especially, when others are planning resolutions that include losing weight or getting a new job, the information provided by a hospice patient can be quite valuable. There are lessons to be learned from conversations with people who recognize that their time on Earth may be short. As hospice nurses, we hear their stories every day. These are the things that they’ve taught us to value more.
Time with Family
If you ask a hospice patient what they wish they had more of in their life, the first thing they often say is time. But it’s not time to work more, surf the Internet or sit on their phone. It’s time with the people they cherish most. They wish they had left work early on Fridays to watch their daughter in the school play. They wish they’d recognized the value of those Sunday dinners before all the kids moved away. They wish they’d spent more time holding their spouse’s hand while enjoying a crisp fall breeze. Even if they spent lots of time doing all of these things, the wish is often that they had just a few more moments to hug the people they love the most.
Forget the Small Stuff
We’ve all had those arguments with a loved one over what essentially amounts to nothing at all. The problem with these small arguments is that they often escalate into bigger arguments. Then, people sit with unresolved problems for weeks, months or even years. Hospice patients often wish that they had given themselves a little grace when it comes to asking for or accepting forgiveness. They wish they’d given the people they love a little more grace too. Don’t wait until later in life to heal old wounds. Say you’re sorry, accept an apology and then move on to better days ahead.
Do What You Love, Love What You Do
If you’re spending all your waking hours at a job that you’re unhappy with or wasting time making phone calls and running errands, you’re not making time to do what you love. Spend less time on the trivial things and more time with the people and things you love the most. Take up a new hobby. Travel a little more. Make time to call an old friend. Learn a second language or new life skill. No matter how young or old you are, doing what you love makes your life more valuable. Every hospice patient we talk to wishes they had recognized this sooner and more often.
There’s a lot to hospice care, but one of the most important things to remember about it is that it’s about nurturing physical, emotional and spiritual health. Don’t wait until you’re in hospice to do this. Instead, spend time with people you care about, don’t sweat the small stuff and make time to do things that matter to you. Salus Homecare wishes you and yours a happy New Year filled with reflection, new experiences and the people you love the most.