Stories from a Hospice Nurse: Windy Viernes

stories from a hospice nurse

I became my mom’s hospice. We didn’t go through a company or anything. I basically got her home, got her all situated, put her on a nice schedule, I did it all. I became the nurse, but not the daughter.

It’s difficult, but that’s what hospice is. You actually make their transition to the next world or next life a little more peaceful. If you can get the family to go along with that, then they can actually take comfort that they abided by their parent’s wishes. That this is what they wanted, but they couldn’t go because the family was not ready yet.

When you can get them to see “you did your mom or your dad’s wish, but they couldn’t go yet because you were not ready. But now I think it’s time for you to say that it’s okay, because that’s what they are waiting for.”

In actuality, sometimes [the patient] wants [the family] to say it’s okay, but [the family] also wants [their loved one] to say it okay. They want each other’s permission to go. They can’t go, and they’ll linger until you are ready. It’s not good for the family and it’s not good for the patient. So we try to get the communication there. They’ll say, “she’s not opening her eyes, I don’t know if she’s hearing me.” Hearing is the last thing to go. They do hear you. And as soon as you say it’s okay, they will go.

“It’s Okay to Go”

Even before I got into hospice, I was in a nursing home. I remember I had a patient who was lingering through the night. Linger, linger, linger. Before I left the shift to go to a meeting, I whispered in her ear, “It’s okay.” I come back an hour later on my way home, and one of the aides told me that she died as soon as I left. All she needed was someone’s permission that it’s okay to go.

That’s it. That’s what people want. If you’re ingrained or if you have that relationship, even though you just met the patient that time, that’s wonderful. That’s what we do as hospice. Hospice is making people feel it’s okay to die. It’s not wrong. It’s okay. It’s part of life. It’s the circle of life. You see how babies cry when they are first born, you will see it the end when they die.

It’s all different each time, no matter what you do.

Windy Viernes
Hospice Nurse
Crossroads Hospice & Palliative Care

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