Essay on Hospice Death and Unexpected Goodbyes

Jul 14, 2010 | 0 comments

Huffington Post columnist Nancy Cronk, director of Progressive Outreach in Colorado, recently posted a wonderful piece titled My Father’s Final Journey in Hospice, which is well worth your time to read. Here are a few paragraphs:

“No one can understand how much anguish end-of-life decisions can cause, unless they have been through it with a loved one. Every impulse we have during our lifetime centers around caring for ourselves and other people — feeding them, keeping them safe and keeping them alive. At the end of life, the very things we have always done automatically as a reflection of our love are in question. Logic is turned upside down. Feeding people who are dying, or giving medications to lengthen a life, can be cruel to a person who is suffering. Allowing someone you love to die naturally and with dignity is the hardest thing there is to do, and yet, it is also an opportunity for a final act of love.

My dad had given us clear instructions on what he wanted at the end of his life. He told us which songs to play at his funeral (Amazing Grace, Old Rugged Cross, Auld Lang Syne, and That Old Gang of Mine), how he wanted to be eulogized (with humor!), who should be responsible for making financial decisions if my mother could not (two of my sisters), and what lessons he was leaving behind (family is important and forgiveness is paramount to any relationship). Had he not spelled all of this out for us in advance, each decision would have caused hours of discussion, arguing and possibly, anguish. I thank G-d everyday my father spared us so much pain.”

How wonderful that he gave his family such direction, which as she said, prevented arguments and possibly anguish. She detailed his last days, and was glad to have those precious days with her father, time to say “I love you” and prepare for a good goodbye. Shortly after her father died, the mother of a good friend died unexpectedly in an accident.

She wrote, “I lie in bed at night and wonder which is worse: watching someone die from cancer and all of the immense pain and suffering that can go along with it, or losing someone you love suddenly and unexpectedly. Both are horrific. No one should see someone they love suffer, and no one should have to die in pain. No one should ever have to lose someone without an opportunity to say good-bye either, robbing them of that last chance to directly express how much that person means to them.”

Some very important things to think about. Then make some plans and tell your loved ones!

A Good Goodbye