Turning Death into Love

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Hospice = death? Actually no. but yes. More like inevitability.

Hospice draws a line in the sand. Once you step over it, you and everyone you tell, now has a new perspective on the life of the patient. And maybe, perhaps because of my volunteer work, I sense Dave now becomes a patient. He is still Dave, my husband, the teacher, the person, but medically he is a patient. With home care I was slowly moving into that patient direction but it still felt temporary. I suppose whenever you have nurses and doctors around, patient is the object.

There are a couple of odd responses to telling folks that Dave is entering hospice. The first is that many people think Hospice it is a place. Where is Hospice? I imagine that this is some sort of the social statement on placing dying people out of sight. The second is that love starts pouring out. “I love you” comes from people you know do love you but never state it, as from friends and colleagues. Hospice gives permission for people to say what they need to say.

I am calmer today. I know that Dave will not have to face any more horrendous so-called medicines like Tarceva. I know that we won’t kill him with poisons, but sooth him with love and support and pain control.  I take comfort in knowing we take this journey together.

I’ve thought twice on calling Hospice the H Bomb, but it is the devastation of news that really rocks our personal world. This spreads among our community of family and friends. And the dust will settle. But, unlike a bomb, as the cloud falls around us we will have opportunity to share love and stories, and not devastate our own being in the process.

I don’t like that Dave will die. We’ve grown together over the past 31 years, well over half my life. He tells me he’s “my biggest fan,” and who wouldn’t want to be the star in someone’s life? He’s been my sounding board through some very tough life moments, and plopping in a chair to vent is a coping mechanism I still engage today. At least once a day now I sit in the rocker across the room crying, as he lies in bed listening, sharing and encouraging me because he’s my biggest fan.

Hospice = love. The love to face the end of life consciously, together. The decision to allow the course of nature to complete this cycle. The shortened time to be. We are after all, according to the series Dead Like Me, only “temps.”

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