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The Hospice Experience: Family Caregiver Stories

Caring for a loved one as they reach the end of their life is an emotional experience. As the family caregiver, you must cope with the eventual loss and grief while continuing to take care of them while they’re still here. It’s a lot to handle, but you don’t have to do it alone. 

Hospice provides expert medical care, emotional and spiritual support, and pain management for people who have been diagnosed with a life-limiting illness. It is specifically tailored to the patient’s wishes and needs, and the focus is quality of life and compassionate care. But what many people don’t realize is that hospice is there to take care of the patient’s loved ones as well. It can be a holistic experience that can help the family heal while giving the patient the end-of-life experience they want. 

In this article, we’ll share stories from family caregivers who have been through the journey of caring for a loved one in hospice, as well as what they appreciated most about it. 

Comfort and Care When We Needed it Most

In this story, Diane Samuelson describes her hospice experience with both her mother and her father, who were both able to pass at their homes as they wished. 

The best part of hospice: “When people call hospice or hear of hospice they think it’s going to be stressful and there’s going to be pain and they’re going to come in and tell me what to do and they’re going to take over. [shakes head no] They’re just a calming presence. They understood. They didn’t judge or try to change anything. I think that was the biggest part. It was like having a good friend that you could lean on. They’re just there. It was almost as if they could anticipate any questions we had, any concerns, any fears, anything, and they knew what to do. And, it wasn’t just my parents who received the care. It was me, it was my sister, all of us.”

Check out the full post here.

A Gift for Norma

Susan Breininger’s mother chose hospice after a terminal diagnosis of multiple myeloma, a cancer of the plasma cells in the bone marrow. Hospice allowed friends and family (126 people in one week!) to say their goodbyes and allowed Norma to have peace before she passed.

The best part of hospice: “The best thing that the staff did for us was that they let us be a family. There is no doubt in my mind that we would make the exact same decision, knowing what we do now. I would want it for myself so my family wouldn’t have to worry about the details and could just be with me. The fact that Hospice gave us the opportunity to treat my mom as though every minute of her life mattered wasn’t just a gift to my mom, it was a gift to all of us.”

Read more in the full article

Lois’ Hughes Story

Hospice allowed Lois to keep the quality of life she wanted in her last days, including carrying on the family traditions she cherished. In this post, her husband and daughter share how much the experience meant to them. 

The best part of hospice: “I’m eternally grateful for every Hospice team member that our family came in contact with during the 3.5 months of time your team took care of my mom. Every person provided love and compassion for my mom through conversations, a hug, or the simple squeeze of her hand every day. My mom spoke so fondly of each of you and found so much comfort after making the choice to enter hospice care.”

Check out her story here

To Live Until He Died, Dad Chose Hospice

After the author’s father’s rare form of cancer became terminal, they called in hospice. He wanted an end-of-life option that would allow him to stay in the family home he built for him and his wife over 50 years ago. Hospice gave him the freedom to spend time with family and continue pursuing his passions until the very end. 

The best part of hospice: “From the moment Hospice became involved in Dad’s care, we were able to simply spend time with him—not as his caregivers but as the people he loved most in the world. Hospice managed Dad’s medications. They made sure we had all the equipment he needed or might need. They became our single point of access for everything. It was such a relief. Having Dad’s day-to-day needs so thoroughly and lovingly taken care of gave us the greatest gift of all—time to just be with him. Personally, I was able to have conversations with him that I’ll treasure forever.”

Learn more about this family’s journey by accessing the article here.

“Save This Quarter”: A Story of Love and Devotion

Stanley Backer knew his wife was the one for him in 1946. After many years together, she suffered a stroke and Stan became her primary caregiver. When the time came, he utilized hospice services to help her pass away the way she wanted.

The best part of hospice: “When hospice care providers began their services, it brought great relief to Stan’s efforts as her caregiver. With the love and care of the hospice team, Stan was given the opportunity to attend to the most important thing in his entire life – loving JoAnn. Stan and JoAnn spent the rest of their time together at home. Every night Stan pulled his bed next to JoAnn’s hospital bed to fall asleep holding her hand.

Read his amazing story here.

Conclusion:

Hospice can help navigate the last stages of life for your parent and for the rest of your family. But it’s important to know that although hospice provides a lot of support, the responsibility of day-to-day care of a person dying at home still falls primarily on family and friends. The hospice team is available/on-call 24/7, but in-person visits are limited to as few as a handful of hours per week. For this reason, many families choose to bring in a professional caregiver to help with any unmet needs. You can discover how in-home care works with hospice in this recent article

And if you’d like to learn more about our Hospice Specialty Program and how we can support you in your family caregiving role during this delicate time, please reach out for a complimentary discovery call with a client service specialist. 

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