Hospice is a scary word to many

“It’s death around the corner.”

“It’s giving up.”

“It’s letting cancer win.”

Many times, when people ask what I do and I say..

“I’m a Hospice Social Worker,”

I tend to get the same responses

“Wow, I couldn’t do that.”

“How can you work with people that are dying?”

“You must become numb after awhile.”

And my favorite:

 “Oh, good for you…”

So, what do I get out of it?

I get to ask how a husband and wife met, after being married for 60+ years while seeing the faces of their kids and grandkids smiling because they hadn’t heard that story before.

I get to listen to military stories of the sacrifices that were made, dear john letters written, and all the places some can say they’ve been.

I get to see the smile of a Veteran receiving a quilt of valor as a thank you for his or her service.

I get to hold the hand of someone that needs comfort because they are scared to be alone.

I get to read the local newspaper out loud to keep a patient informed of who was picked for homecoming. 

I get to listen to 40s, 50s, 60s, and 70s music because it reminds patients of the dance halls they went to on Friday nights with their loved one. 

I get to listen to how proud many of our patients are of their children and grandchildren. 

I get to plan a trip to make one more great memory for the family and patient. 

I get to take the hardship of insurance, confusion of medical terminology, and long phone calls off loved one’s hands so they can focus on their family/friend. 

I get to walk a dog around the block because a patient just doesn’t have the strength that day. 

I get to listen and learn about someone’s story, whether simple or complex.

I get to make sure that up until that very last day of being here with us they are peaceful and not scared, comforted and not worried, and reassured that their story will never be forgotten.

Hospice isn’t a scary word at all.

Hospice isn’t about your quantity of life or about dying, it’s the quality of life you have and the opportunity to share your story with a stranger, a friend or someone you love.