September 13, 2014

Embracing the Unknown: A Story from a Hospice Nurse. ~ Abby Pingree

jeronimo sanz/Flickr Creative Commons

I meet many people at various end stages of life.

Some are at death’s door, others have weeks and others have months or longer—but all have been referred for end of life hospice care.

When I meet people for the first hospice introduction, I am gentle and do my best to honor the immense decision they have made to accept hospice care.

Some come willingly, some fight to the end.

As a hospice nurse, I do my best to honor people where they are by giving them as much information as possible and letting them decide for themselves what is best.

I understand that just because their doctor has told them they have six months or less to live and that there is nothing more the medical community can do to treat or try to prolong their life, this does not mean they are emotionally ready for hospice.

I have always been an intuitive person, very sensitive to the emotions of others.

As a child, this was difficult at times, but it has helped me provide individualized care for patients and their families.

I meet people where they are, emotionally and mentally.

I tune into their needs and their ability to accept what is and teach accordingly. Mostly, I make myself available to people. I bring with me an acceptance of death, an inner cooperation with the inevitable.

As a culture, we are steeped in denial and fear of death.

This sometimes makes my job very challenging. But occasionally, I meet wise souls who are willing to embrace the unknown.

This little story is about such an encounter:

We had just met and he asked me about dying because he knew his time was near, so I put my nursing hat aside  and said,

“Of course I don’t know what happens when you die, but…”

Then, I went on to tell him about the great peace and stillness I experience when I sit with someone as they pass away.

He became quiet and then said, with a twinkle in his eye and slight smile, “I’m kind of excited to die.”





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Photo: jeronimo sanz/Flickr Creative Commons



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