Last year I started a tradition of inviting all of my hospice friends and acquaintances to coffee/tea on a Friday in November to celebrate and honor them for National Hospice month. I don’t do this for marketing purposes, or business development, or to secure referral sources. I do it because I understand what it takes to work in hospice and I truly respect anyone who chooses that line of work.
Last year we had a wonderful group from several different hospice organizations. Some were from not-for-profit organizations, some were from for-profit companies. We had such a wonderful time telling ghost stories (all true, of course) and talking about how amazing “Walking Dead” is. Sipping our pumpkin spice lattes or cappuccinos, we all really enjoyed each other’s company and camaraderie.
I truly believe hospice staff are all very special people. From the first conversation with the family about the need for hospice or the benefits to the patient as well as the family, to the conversation that agreeing to hospice services does not mean giving up. These people are not only working in an environment of sickness, terminal illness, injury, and death, but also extreme emotion and despair….while the people are still alive. That must be so heart wrenching at times, and yet they continue to do this day after day. One associate told me, “Yes, the pain and sadness can be unbearable at times. But seeing a patient pass peacefully and comfortably surrounded by those things and people that are important to them, makes my job so fulfilling and worthwhile.”
Here is the Proof
When our funeral directors meet with the families to help with funeral and/or disposition arrangements, they ask if the family utilized hospice services prior to the death. Whenever a family used hospice, the compliments and praises about hospice are overwhelming:
- The initial contact with hospice helped put our minds at ease,
- The chaplain made our pain more bearable,
- The care and compassion for which the nurse showed our mother was so comforting,
- The social worker helped guide us at a time most difficult for our family,
- The volunteer made my mom smile at time when she could barely speak,
- I wish we had considered hospice sooner.
I plan to continue this tradition every year, and I hope that every year when the invitation is received that more and more of my hospice friends and acquaintances are able to join our merry group. It is such a simple and wonderful way for me to be able to say “Thank you. I can certainly appreciate what you do.” See you next year.
Julie is the Director of Community Relations at Schoedinger Funeral Service.