Saturday, August 17, 2013

Hospice Saved My Life

These questions were asked of me yesterday by two different people:
Why do you work so hard for Hospice?
How do you get over losing the love of your life?

The first question was because of telling someone who didn’t know me well that I had to decline an invitation because I had a commitment for Lower Cape Fear Hospice. The second was a curiosity question from an individual who perhaps thought I should still be wearing a black veil and hiding myself away from society as a widow.

The simple answer to both of these questions is because Hospice saved my life. You probably think of death when you hear or see the word hospice but I don’t.

I think of life!

Hospice took care of my mother until her last breath but more importantly they took care of me. I see so many people really screwed up because of deaths of friends or family and they didn’t address their grief in a healthy manner. I fit that category before Hospice. All my family had died, my dad and my brother very tragically in different accidental deaths.

While mom was a patient of theirs they taught me many things about death and I learned from the experience death can be a beautiful thing. I have a strong Christian faith and now equate death with a birth. With their grief counseling I was able to heal from my loss. Does that mean I don’t miss my mom? Not at all. I will remain her little girl forever and have moments where I still just want my mommy. I was also able to heal from my previous losses and address my feelings about it for the first time instead of just stifling them thinking that is the way it was done.

My husband was not a Hospice patient. He had a double lung transplant and developed complications post surgery that caused his death. Because of our Hospice experience with mom, he and I were able to talk about death openly when he was diagnosed. In the nine months he lived from diagnosis to death, we openly discussed so many things, including his death, because of Hospice. It was not the elephant in the room. From day one of his diagnosis we continued to have hope but we both knew, just knew in our souls, he would not live.

Because of my previous grief counseling with Hospice after mom’s death I thought I would have a good, healthy grieving process when he died. After about 5 months I knew that wasn’t happening and again called them to help me. They did and I understood from them this was different and I needed to deal with it differently. I did with their help and here I am today almost 4 years later with no unresolved issues and mentally healthy with my grief. Yes, there is still grief in a fashion and always will be because we truly did have that perfect love story everyone dreams of. Now I can count my blessings having had that and smile from my soul because of it.

Complicating the grief from my husband, my dear friend died just 3 months later and I was taking care of her prior to her death. I had no time to think about the impact of my husbands death because just a week or so after he died I began caring for her because her children wouldn’t. Had I not asked for help from Hospice at that extremely low point in my life due to grief I am not certain where I would be right now. I don’t believe I would have taken my own life but I may have thought about it because my losses were so overwhelming.

I can very easily say Lower Cape Fear Hospice saved my life and they really are all about living. I would be alive in a physical sense today but mentally I am not certain where I would be. I can confidently say I would really be screwed up in some manner and would have missed so many blessings that have come my way since my husband died. My life with him was a cherished part of my journey. The next steps in my journey will be better because of him and our love but more importantly because Hospice gave me the tools to embrace that, celebrate it and live now, truly live, which in itself is a valuable way of honoring his life and my precious moms life.
Their logo is even a Tree Of Life:

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