Learn about hospice before end-of-life care becomes an issue

December 05, 2004

Dear Editor:

"There's nothing else we can do ... we'll call hospice and send you home today." Those words echoed in my head as I sat at my sister-in-law's bedside. So many feelings rushed through me as I struggled to, gain my composer and attempt to offer support to my family.

Hearing the word "hospice" was difficult for me even though I hear it, see it and live it daily as the executive director of Heritage Hospice, Inc. Being on the "other side" was a place I had been before, but not like this. This was my sister-in-law, someone I loved and shared so much over the years. I felt helpless. I found myself falling into the "nothing else can be done" thought process wondering how did we get to this point.

Decisions had to be made - quickly. Time took on a new meaning. Home became the immediate focus as it was important for my sister-in-law to be home surrounded by her husband, children, family, friends and hospice. And then, it hit me. There's a lot to be done. I found myself getting frustrated, thinking "what do they mean there's nothing else to be done!" There are things to be said, people to see, time ever so short to be cherished, comfort to be maintained and dignity to be upheld!


Being at home with hospice allowed my family to share an incredible experience in caring for my sister-in-law during her last days. The time at home was much too short but we were thankful to have had what we had. This time for us became "bonus time," something that few have the privilege to experience.

So many people see hospice as what you do when there's nothing left to do. But that's not true. Hospice provides a wide range of services to the family and patient, maximizing quality of life and helping people live as fully as possible, because hospice is, not about how you die ... it's about how you live.

I am thankful, as is my family for having the time at home with my sister-in-law. Unfortunately, like many others, our time was short. We are thankful for the privilege of being able to share, laugh, cry and to be present at such an intimate time in her life.

I urge you to learn more about hospice care and to know there is something that can be done. A cure may not be possible but there's a whole lot of care that can be done. Far too many people wait until they are facing a health crisis to learn about care options. The best time to learn about end-of-life care is before it becomes a serious issue.

For more information about hospice care and because there is something to be done, call Heritage Hospice, Inc., a United Way Agency at (859) 236-2425.

JaneIle Lane Wheeler

Executive Director

Heritage Hospice, Inc.

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