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Posted by Jennie Anderson-Nowak



It’s the last thing hospice patients do before they are discharged from service.

Lilian, Mary, Emmett and so many more.

As hospice nurses, we all have patients who have touched our hearts in profound ways.

Many folks think hospice is a sad thing. It’s not though. The grief families experience comes from losing these beautiful souls and anticipating a world without their jokes, their laughter, and their wisdom gained from a lifetime of experience. It's not sad for me though ― each is a celebration of a life and the end of one soul's human experience. But hospice nurses experience the loss in some ways as well. We all have different ways to cope too.

I meditate.

Inhale deeply all the laughter and joy of Lilian. 100 years old and sipping on a birthday martini, asking for a second. Telling dirty jokes to anyone who will listen. 

Exhale the loss and celebrate the fact that Lilian hurts no longer and she is dancing in heaven with her mother who she called out to on a nightly basis.

Inhale deeply the wisdom of Mary. “Honey, remember not to work your life away, there are so many more important things. Always remember to pray and be thankful.”

Exhale the love story that was uncovered when Mary's daughters found a treasure trove of love letters exchanged between Mary and her husband during wartime. Mary said he was coming for her on Memorial Day. She wasn’t wrong.

Inhale deeply the same story with slight variations that Emmett told me over, and over, and over, and over again. Always with a glimmer in his eyes and a big smile on his face.

Exhale the days when Emmett lost his ability to speak and how I told him his stories to see that glimmer just once more in his eyes; see that smile for only a brief moment again.

Inhale love, peace, memories, grace.



Note: Names have been changed.

Comments (1)

  • Eric Miller

    10 May 2016 at 14:20 | #

    Thank you for sharing. This was the most beautifully written description I have ever read. You took me there and I felt your every inhale and exhale. Thank you for everything you do.


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