My mother died when I was 18. She was only 50.
There were no hospices in the United States at the time. So, she died in a very sterile and clinical hospital environment. There were already a few hospices in the U.K. But, it was not until 1974 that the first home-care program for the terminally ill opened in the States.
When I moved from Detroit to Colorado, I started the healing process. One day, I attended a talk in Denver by a doctor called Elizabeth Kubler Ross, author of the book “On Death and Dying.”
I was so moved by Elizabeth’s talk that focused on helping families and health professionals that I wrote her a letter. We ended up meeting and, for 2 years, I helped her set up her Life Death and Transition workshops. This coincided with the beginning of the hospice movement in the United States and my work with bereavement counselling.
So, it was wonderful to recently discover a book by Ann Richardson, one of our Sixty and Me bloggers exploring how it feels to experience and work in hospices and deal with end-of-life care.
I’d like to tell you a little bit about her book here. If you find her ideas interesting, I hope that you will check it out.
Ann’s book “Life in a Hospice, Reflections on Caring for the Dying,” is for anyone who has an interest in what goes on in a hospice today. More specifically, it is for people who are considering options for end-of-life care for a friend or family member.
It is also for people who have already experienced hospice care and want to learn more about how it feels “behind the scenes.” Finally, it is also for people who work in end-of-life care or are thinking of taking this up as a career.
She gives many examples. For example, they may assist a dying woman with writing a letter to her granddaughter or meeting the request of a man to die under a tree. This sensitivity to a dying person’s wishes and the openness to speak about it is what makes hospice care unique.
The reality of working in end-of-life care brings many challenges and Ann’s book talks constructively about how to manage the sheer emotional overload that can affect the home lives of workers.
Like Elizabeth, she talks in very beautiful terms about how dying is a part of life. As a result, it is helpful for all of us to learn more about how to ease the process with intimacy and tranquility.
In her book, Ann offers actionable and practical suggestions that family and friends can take when deciding on hospice care. She also talks about how working as a volunteer in a hospice is a way of bringing inspiration and depth to a person’s own life.
This is a down to earth book about the hospice movement and I would recommend it for those making end of life decisions for family or friends.
Have you ever been involved in the hospice care of a loved one? What experiences have you had with hospices? What advice would you give to the other women in our community who may be deciding about hospice care for someone that they care about? Let’s have a conversation!