i am not sure hospice is where you want to be.
i recently walked through the hospice experience (mandatory clarity: i didn’t die) with my aunts and uncles as my grandmother passed.
on saturday, it was almost impossible for her to lift her hand and scratch her nose. it required assistance from a family member. a few days later, when i arrived, she was on enough pain medication to be unconscious. she appeared to be asleep. the pain meds gradually increase as one approaches death. the first night i was there, she woke up in the middle of the night in pain and tried to scratch everywhere. notably, since she could hardly scratch her nose, it was a delayed action, but you could see it in her eyes. pain. soul wretching.
there is a lot of pain in hospice. pain for the patient. pain for the family to watch the gradual physical decline of the body. pain that this person will be gone from this world. to wait in expectation of “this could be the day” or that “the day” doesn’t come as quick as one expected. that someone passes “too soon.”
but here’s the thing. a great challenge: we do not own time. Clive says it best:
“Notice how we are perpetually surprised at Time. (‘How time flies! Fancy John being grown-up and married! I can hardly believe it!’) In heavens name, why? Unless, indeed, there is something in us which is not temporal.” – Mere Christianity, CS Lewis
it’s not ours to hold. we never purchased time to begin with.
despite the pain, there was immense beauty in hospice. i witnessed
love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness
embodied in the caring.
i watched as my uncle combed her snowflake-white hair with a comb. i listened as my family told stories about a jimmy buffet concert she attended a few years ago. i observed as my uncle spent the night at the hospital at her side every night for two weeks so she would not be alone if she were to pass on. i stood in solidarity with my family as we made decisions about her medical treatment, whether or not to extend her go-between state.
to walk with someone into death, a place where i cannot go,
is a journey worth taking.
maybe it’s not where you want to be now. perhaps it will be. one day. if you have the chance.
i’d walk you into it, if you wanted me to. i hope someone you love would choose to walk you into it as well.