Thought For The Day 07/27/11 (Hospice)


Never Say Never!

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(Photo courtesy of Rev. Michael Weissman)

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I thought the post I wrote on 07/23/11 would be the last one I would write about hospice for a while….but never say never!

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During the nearly ten years I worked as a hospice nurse I thought I had heard and seen nearly everything that was possible to experience when assisting families through the dying process. Juggling these families, and their individual set of quirky “family dynamics” can be quite a challenge and frequently gives birth to innovative and uniquely individual plans of care. I gave an elderly mother comfort when I fulfilled her request that her daughter not be removed from the house by the funeral home until she was fully dressed….including undergarments and girdle, stockings, dress, and shoes; I helped a man who wanted his wife moved from her hospital bed to the bed they had shared for more than 40 years so that he might be able to lay next to her and hold her for her last moments; I helped a patient into a wheelchair so that she might be able to go out on the porch and feel the sun on her face one last time. I answered every question they asked because not knowing the answer would have increased the anxiety and fear that even the best prepared hospice family sometimes experiences. But Tuesday, I had to answer questions from a relative who lives out west, and who is dealing with hospice services being provided to a family, not her own. This family lives next door and the woman who is dying is the grandmother of her daughter’s boyfriend. (Don’t be concerned if you can’t quite figure out the relationships here!)

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Now this woman who is dying is coming home from an inpatient hospice facility so that her last days might be spent in her youngest daughter’s home. The family has gathered together to make the preparations for this homecoming. This dying woman’s eldest daughter and her family have traveled from the east coast to be able to share the gift of spending these last days together. Then suddenly, tragedy strikes this family. The daughter from the east eats something with Pignolias (pine nuts) in it, developes an allergic reaction, and in the blink of an eye, is gone at age 45.

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My relative was planning dinner for this family to celebrate being together and beginning this final journey but now she doesn’t know what to do. She asked me if she should continue these dinner plans. She asked me who makes the arrangements to have this woman returned to the east coast. And she asked me how do they tell a dying woman that she has lost her daughter. These are all important questions to ask because this situation is so unique to this family and it is unlikely that something exactly like this has ever happened before. I answered her questions to the best of my ability since I don’t know the family involved at all. But I look to my experience and my faith to guide me in the answers I give.

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Now, more than ever, this family needs the support of friends who will just be there…to help and to listen. Yes, dinner plans should be continued, even though appetites may not cooperate. But the simple act of breaking bread together cements the bonds of love and friendship that will be so vital to this family in the days ahead. I tell her that the arrangements can be placed in the hands of the funeral home. They will network with the airlines and the funeral home in Georgia and will handle the details that the sudden shock of this situation will prevent the family from being able to think through right now. And I tell her that yes, this hospice patient needs to be told about her daughter’s death. The simple fact that she is mourning her own impending death does not lessen the need she will have to make her peace and say her “goodbyes” to her daughter and while the final decision is up to the family to make, I believe that even if she is not told, she will know there is a monumental secret that is being kept. Should she find out at a later time, it is likely she will resent being prevented from grieving for her lost child, and this would, most certainly, serve to undermine the resources she will need as her own life forces wane.

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When God designed man and endowed him with the gifts of character and human nature, perhaps the greatest gift bestowed was that of resilience.  It is our resilience that allows us to grow and become a better person by overcoming the obstacles that are placed in our path each and every day. It is by meeting these challenges head on that we learn to develop the inner resources so vital for our growth, both emotional as well as spiritual. We do not accomplish, or love, or achieve things in life without being willing to challenge…..without daring to take those chances, even when the prospects of doing so are terrifying. For it is only when you stop and look in the eyes that which you fear, that you will be able to defeat it and replace that fear with victory!

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“The truth is that our finest moments are most likely to occur when we are feeling deeply uncomfortable, unhappy, or unfulfilled.  For it is only in such moments, propelled by our discomfort, that we are likely to step out of our ruts and start searching for different ways or truer answers.”

~ ~ Author Unknown ~ ~

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“MandysPath” Ministry

Copyright © 2011 “MandysPath” Ministry-ULC

About Mandy Bruscella

Mandy's Story: As a Registered Professional Nurse with Certification in a number of specialties including home care, I was afforded the opportunity of working closely with various Social Service Agencies in NY and NJ. ~ A lifelong Christian, I was ordained as a Presbyterian deacon in 1993 and, after relocating to SC in 2000, elected to become ordained as a non-denominational minister. ~ I established "MandysPath" Ministry in 2011. "MandysPath" Ministry is a member of Pacific Life Church, El Sobrante, CA, network of ministries. ~ I direct an outreach ministry in an alternative setting, providing spiritual care to a congregation of more than 500 people from around the world via the Internet. ~ As part of this outreach, I write a daily faith based blog. In March, 2012 I was asked to become a board member of Heroes For Children which is a non-profit foundation, established to assists the Guardian ad Litem program of Horry County, SC. Guardians ad Litem are a group of court appointed advocates who represent the best interests of children in Family Court proceedings involving allegations of abuse or neglect. Working closely with these men and women who make a difference in the lives of children, I completed training and have been sworn in to serve as a Guardian ad Litem for the state of South Carolina . ~ I have been married since 1975 to a wonderful man, Daniel. I have a son Daniel and his wife Melissa who live in NYC. My daughter Sabrina and my grandson Landon live here in SC. ~ My father Harold continues to share his wisdom with me and is responsible for many of the ideas I write about!

6 responses »

  1. Pingback: Thought For The Day 07/27/11 ? mandyspath | akosisilu

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  3. Pingback: Thought For The Day 07/27/11 ? mandyspath | Marisol Nichols Bio

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