When we hear a friend or acquaintance is on Hospice,our first response might be to feel sorry for the person and think about their having to face dying soon. From the perspective of hospice patients,nothing could be further from the truth.
I have been inspired and awed by the hospice patients I have had the honor of serving. Leaning new things can be a struggle,especially the new technology for folks who are baby boomers or older. One patient who is in his 90’s decided he wanted to learn how to use an I-Pad,so he bought one from QVS channel to see what it was all about. I was amazed by his desire to want to keep on learning,even as he faces a chronic heart disease day in and day out.
Another 84 year old decided to host a family reunion and to bring together his five children who haven’t seen him or one another for several years. He isn’t even sure he is going to live long enough to be part of the reunion but he wants to create this opportunity to express his love and appreciation for his family. His desire to be with the whole family one last time is a great example of living life with courage and making the best use of the time he still has in life.
Another patient suffering from cancer offered medications he wasn’t using to a younger patient he met at the clinic where both of them were receiving chemotherapy. My patient and his wife wound up “adopting” this young man and his family who were in financial need due to job loss. They love this family as if they were their own. During the holidays they invited the couple over with their three small children to share Christmas dinner and gave gifts to the whole family. Before the family moved to another state where the father obtained work,my patient took them shopping to buy some new clothes for the children.
When I asked what inspired him to do this,my patient simply said,“My father told me that life is more than just making money and belonging to the country club. You should help others when life presents you with the opportunity to do so.” He then spoke of the joy he felt in helping this family get back on their feet.
These hospice patients are good examples of how we can live life fully,whether we are facing a terminal illness or not. Being on hospice is not about dying but about appreciating the gift of life and sharing it with others to the greatest degree possible. May we follow these wonderful examples of living,from patients who are indeed great teachers in living and dying well.
Luigi Persichetti is the chaplain for Southern Utah Home Care and Hospice. For more information on Hospice services,contact David Isom or Debbie Cox at 435-634-9300.