My Mom was a Hospice Patient

The Diagnosis

When my mother was first diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease, I became aware for the first time of how she would most likely die. Over the next ten years or so, I watched her slowly leave us. Her physical abilities declined and her brain changed. Although it was difficult and sad to witness, the gradualness of her downward slope gave me time to get to know and appreciate the person she was becoming.  

I knew what physical criteria needed to be present for my mother to be admitted to our hospice program. As soon as I realized she met the criteria, I asked Wings of Hope to admit her as a patient.

The Hospice Admission

I remember meeting my dad at the assisted living home my mother was in. We sat in my mom’s room with her and waited for the Wings nurse. I knew exactly what was going to happen in this meeting, but I’d never experienced it as anything but a hospice nurse – never as a family member of a hospice patient. I was very glad that my hospice would be able to serve my mom and help our family on this journey.

Linda arrived to admit my mom. With some difficulty, I adjusted my perspective to be a family member and not a hospice executive director. I remember watching Linda build a rapport with my dad. When she asked him, “What does it mean to you to have Wings of Hope on board?” my dad said, “Relief.”

Everything went smoothly, and my dad and I visited with my mom a while after Linda left. All continued to go smoothly until I got disoriented on my way home.

Disorientation

I had visited my mom countless times in this place. The road on which everything changed was one I traveled on to work and back home again every day. I knew it well, yet on this road I saw horses in pastures that I had seemingly never noticed before. For a fleeting second I didn’t know where I was. Despite the weirdness of the moment, I knew exactly what was happening. I was subconsciously reacting to the fact that I had just admitted my mother into a hospice program. It was affecting me more than I ever expected it would.

Goodbye

My mother was a Wings of Hope patient for many months before she died. The last few days of her life my family did what I’d seen a hundred families do before. We gathered in her room and kept a vigil around her bed. We said our goodbyes, and she died as gracefully as she had lived.

Between the time of admission and the day she died, I had many rocky moments. Wings of Hope staff helped me through each one of them. I didn’t know exactly how to be the executive director of the hospice that was serving my mom, but the Wings staff took care of my mom and my family just as they did everyone else we serve. They helped me through a very challenging time. I am so proud of the job they did.

Better for the Experience

I am grateful for this experience. It has rounded out my perspective on the work we do, and, I think, has helped me be a better executive director. I know that when it’s my turn, I will want Wings of Hope to walk with me again.

Theresa Lynn, PhD, RN, LMSW

 

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