I knew my mother was ready for hospice before any of her medical team suggested it.
Mother had a great way of rallying herself for doctor visits, but I lived with her, cared for her 24/7, and was beginning to see a shift. I knew my mother had taken a turn. I knew that both of us were tired of the tests, treatments and hospital rigmarole. I knew, in essence, that she had given up the will to live.
Whether your loved one has cancer, Parkinson’s, heart disease or dementia, whether they’re young or old, it’s hard to let go. Even when you know they’re suffering and you want them at peace, it’s hard. When is the right time to ask about hospice?
Although end-of-life care may be difficult to discuss, it is best for loved ones and family members to share their wishes long before it becomes a concern. This can greatly reduce stress when the time for hospice becomes apparent.
Even the medical community denies and avoids death. Accepting that the end is near, that you will begin to have to let go, to sit quietly by a loved one’s bedside, to not go into “heroics” and throw on the paddles or rush to the ER is very, very difficult.
The last month of my own mother’s life was in many ways one of the most peaceful times of my life. It was also excruciating. As a society, we’re no longer taught to sit with death. We’re no longer taught to let nature take its course, to relinquish our control. Learning to do this, to hear the clock tick, to let my family come and go as I sat by my mother’s bed and wiped her brow, was a finishing of something I had begun. It was bone-deep and cathartic, and gave me time to think and process. I began to see the whole of my mother’s life. I understood that both of us needed to let go.
Hospice isn’t about giving up. It’s about giving in. Three signs can tell families when it's time:
Ÿ The disease has progressed to the point that there’s no cure, and you (and your loved one) have decided to manage the pain, be comfortable and not actively treat the disease.
Ÿ You and your loved one choose to forego any further testing or hospitalizationsby this choice, you allow the dying process to happen naturally. Body functions and organs may begin to diminish.
Ÿ You’re ready to begin to let go, say good-bye and follow the oath of hospice, to “neither hinder, nor hasten death.”