Hospice Provides a Better Way to Live
by Rev. Mark E. Auernhamer, M. Div. and Niagara Hospice Spiritual Care Counselor
Refusing hospice care because it's associated with dying is like not celebrating a birthday because it reminds you that you are getting older. Dying is part of life; and birthdays remind us every year to celebrate the life we've been gifted.
Whether we die is not a choice. When we die can be related to the choices we've made. How we die and being prepared to die is definitely our choice.
It is better to be prepared to die than to die unprepared. When the doctors say there is nothing more they can do (to cure your disease), the good news is you're not dead yet! You're still alive! And if you're alive, there is purpose, meaning, joy, things you can do to make a difference in the lives of others: spouse, family, friends or total strangers.
A number of years ago, with the help of the hospice chaplain, a patient was reconciled with his long-estranged family. His last words to the chaplain were, "Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!" Many hospice patients discover a new sense of peace and meaning, more than they ever had before. Hospice chaplain, Rev. Carolyn Peeler, tells of a patient who told her, "I never learned how to live until I overcame my fear of dying."
Too many people are merely existing and not really living. They are wasting precious time and energy without a sense of the big picture; without a meaningful purpose; without acknowledging that our days on earth are finite; and the clock is ticking!
Our goal for every hospice patient is not just to live, but to live better. In a perfect world, nobody would die. But since we live in an imperfect world, the next best scenario is to die with the support of loved ones who are backed by a caring team of hospice professionals.
Choosing hospice care is not giving up hope, but getting help. And when you choose hospice you are getting the very best help from the most highly skilled professionals in the field of end of life care. But don't let the words, "end of life," mislead you into thinking of weeks, days or hours. Some of us will have advance knowledge that our days are numbered. We may have the opportunity to make plans, amends, new friends and reach out to old friends. How we choose to spend the remaining time we've been gifted is up to us. Hospice can help us make sure that time is of the best quality and spent in comfort, surrounded by friends and family.
In the photo above, Niagara Hospice staff help one of their patients celebrate her 102nd birthday!