Many times when I see families that have come togethter to care for their loved one, they do so out of love. Also significant, is that the loved one that they are caring for feels like they are a "burden" and don't want their family to feel put out. I think one of the most inportant parts of my job is to help my patients understand that their family wouldn't want it any other way!
As a hospice patient care volunteer I've spent time with families, patients and caregivers. Whenever I needed to talk to a patient's nurse or social worker or any other team member, they were always promptly there for me, supporting my needs as a volunteer. Our patients' families always would speak very highly to me of our teams and the services they/we provided.
One of my most memorable chaplain visits was to visit the wife of a patient who was not assigned to me, and whom I had never met before. We had a task to accomplish, and while working on that we started talking. I was a High-Church Episcopalian and she was Jewish "not-religious" I learned, but this made no difference I soon realized. As we sat together at their kitchen table, coffee in hand we talked. She shared about how she had met her husband, the children they had together. The good times and the hard times they shared together in their 70 years of marriage. With a twinkle in her eye she spoke of their granddaughter who had just graduated from college, she was so proud. We talked about the difficulty of her husband's illness and how she tried to keep a positive attitude about it all. As I sat there listening to her talk I soon realized that she was probably giving me more encouragement than I to her. But then, most often as a chaplain, I listen...I listen to stories about life, about faith, about family and friends...this visit was no different.
Midwest CareCenter sailed into mid-summer with two events that took our community to new realms – literally.
On July 31 we hosted "Developing Your Intuition" in the atrium to a crowd of roughly 70 people. The talk was presented by America Martinez, who describes herself as an "Intuitive Consultant to individuals, couples, families ... (whose) work includes lectures and workshops on such topics as Numerology and Learning the Language of the Tarot."
My name is Marlene and it was about five years ago that Midwest Palliative and Hospice Center was introduced to me. My husband, Tom, had been battling terminal cancer ― a glioblastoma located in his spine ― for a year. Surgery, radiation, physical therapy, hospital stays, blood tests, and numerous cycles of various chemotherapies defined that year but the cancer kept winning. During that year I was fortunate enough to be his full- time caregiver.
It all started thanks to the power of suggestion.
Jeffrey Dodd, an RN at Midwest Care Center's Hospice Suite at Northwest Community Hospital, discovered an article in the American Academy of Hospice and Palliative Medicine Quarterly, which theorized that 55 word stories could "help clinicians note, reflect, and heal from their daily experiences in caring for seriously ill patients."
I recall a particular late morning in my garden, one of those late fall days when the sky is vivid blue and cloudless; the air holds the crispness of impending winter around the envelope of sunny warmth. The image still so vivid in my mind was a rose bud—still tight in its emergence with the petal tips deeply blushed with pink. With more warmth and sun, this bud was so full of potential to be a fragrant blossom.
I am so incredibly blessed to have had all four of my grandparents in my life for seventeen years. I couldn't imagine losing one of them until my grandpa was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease.
The one thing I remember best about my grandfather is that he could tell stories like he was reading a book. He used such detail and was indescribably passionate about what he did. He was a physician and the number one rule he always followed was to make sure his patients were comfortable and peaceful.
Recently I had a young patient assigned to me who had a beautiful two-year-old son. Sadly, this patient was not in our care long. Caring for this patient and her family was difficult, and it reminded me of how life can change in an instant. After I left her home for the last time, I found myself at home charting clinical notes on my sofa with my 16-year-old daughter sitting next to me telling me about her day, excited by life and wanting to share every detail of her day with me. At that moment, I felt so blessed that I was able to be with my daughter the last 16 years and God willing many more years ahead.
Anyone who has lost a loved one or is caring for the dying knows that support and connecting with people who “get it” are the keys to finding strength.