November 6, 2007

If you are a hospice worker, I thank you.

During the time my grandmother was in the hospital (well, the most recent time), she was also in hospice care. If you are not aware of hospice, it is a special branch of the healthcare industry dedicated to helping people die easier. They come into your home, they bathe, exercise, talk to, care for, administer medicine to, pick up after your loved one in their final days. It is a blessed career, and decidedly hard. To watch someone die, even if you aren’t related to them or know them very well, must be quite a task.

And it’s not like these people are hard people. They are real, soft, kind souls. They came into my grandparents home for months and cared for my Meme, and when she was in Hospice at the hospital, they cared for her just as much, and cared for my grandfather too. They also have been offering grief counseling and the like since her death. These people have families, children, life problems. My grandfather suspected that several of them might have been in serious trouble outside the job, and offered to help them back for everything they were doing for us so far. Illness, debt, education, car trouble, family trouble, drug problems. These were people.

I know I couldn’t do that. Hell, I couldn’t work in the middle of someone nearly well, much less someone almost dead. To be around the sick and injured aches me so, and to live that career would be quite horrible to me. I’d quit the first day. My friend Jen (aka the button) used to work in a nursing home and she could barely stand it. That girl (yes, I’m talking about you) has some toughness that I don’t have, considering what she’s done so far, and to have her not be able to keep it up says a lot about the profession.

So, if you were one of the ones who worked with my family to bring them a little more ease; if you are one of the people who daily wakes up in someone else’s house to help them get to the bathroom; if you change adult diapers for a living then go home and take care of your own babies; if you have learned through experience what happens right before the last breath and still can get up and go to school the next day; if you wheel in hospital beds and oxygen tanks and flower baskets; if you sit up for hours while people cry about the life they didn’t lead and know they will never get the chance to change things; if you look in the face of death daily and smile warmly back, I thank you.



  1. Yep, they made my Dad’s passing a lot better and are still calling to keep up the spirits on my Mom. I remember the first time they came to wash my Dad, a man who really did work hard in his life, and you could see the glow as he said, “Hell, it’s like what I imagine a spa being like!”

    It really does take something special, something tritely angelic… It only becomes truly angelic once you’ve experienced it.

  2. Wow. I didn’t even know such a service existed. You learn something new everyday. There are other jobs out there(such as the nursing home jobs) that I couldn’t bare to do. Just being in that atmosphere … ugh. I couldn’t imagine.

    -Great post.

  3. Blessed are the caregivers…

  4. *hugs* I couldn’t stand it because of those who worked above me. I enjoyed every moment takign care of loved ones. Yes, they were my loved ones. No one else seemed to love them, shutting them up in a small room and never visiting. That’s the stuff that breaks your heart. I come from a long line of women with strong hearts and a caring personality. My grandmother, bless her heart, can barely see these days and she still makes quilts, peanut pillows, and other things for patients in hospice care. She is a proud volunteer for them.

    Thank you for recognising how hard a job like that is.


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