Stories from a Hospice Nurse: Brenda Anglin, RN, BSN
One of the reasons I got into hospice many years ago – I won’t tell you how many – is to support families at the most crucial time of their lives when they are going to say goodbye to their loved ones and they just don’t know how.
They don’t know what to expect. They don’t know what the process is. They don’t know what the medications are going to do. They don’t even know that they’re going to be with anybody. They don’t want to be alone.
Their family member always wants the best of care, and one of the things Crossroads affords me is the opportunity to go above and beyond the normal care that a person might receive. They allow that time spent to be there with the family, to be there with that person who is dying, and to be able to be in that sacred space that everyone finds themselves in and doesn’t know what it is.
It’s my job as a hospice nurse to identify that. I love doing that because it really opens up the heart space of the moment when I’m with patients or families, and so it really fulfills my purpose in life.
My Crossroads Story
Crossroads is actually the second hospice I’ve worked for, and I fell in love with the philosophy of Crossroads and that’s why I’m here – because we believe in doing more.
I had a unique opportunity after a few years to go off to California and do special project of mine that didn’t pertain to hospice. After that was done, I looked around California, in particular, and saw there wasn’t any hospice that had a philosophy that I was used to, that my heart beat to. So I decided to go the nearest Crossroads.
There was St. Louis and there was Oklahoma City that was fairly close, so I chose Oklahoma City. Not only did I find the consistency of the compassion and philosophy that I wanted and needed at the time because I couldn’t agree with what was in the state of California at the time so I could continue on. Then I made my way over to the East Coast, and I don’t know that I’m the only one in Crossroads that has traveled across the States with Crossroads, but it certainly has been a joy to be able to do that.
Stories of a Hospice Nurse
In one particular case, there was a woman who had a difficult life. She ended up having breast cancer and it metastasized. And during the course of time, she really wanted to have control over her life. She was seeing it was spiraling down.
I was able to make sure that through the use of doctor’s orders, through the use of friends to cater to her needs. One of her needs was to go out and have a smoke. It wasn’t exactly good for her diagnosis, but I was able to get a doctor’s order and be able to help her out and fulfill some of her last wishes.
Even though the family didn’t understand, I was able to bring them along to that space, to that spot where they could focus on her and not what’s around her, whether she’s smoking or not smoking. It was quite the event.
As we went along, I would sometimes sit on her bed and sing with her and we would go back and forth singing, and all of the sudden she stopped and she looked around. And this was fairly close to before she died.
I said, “Oh, Ruth*, are you looking at those angels again?”
She says, “yeah, and you’ve got two of them on the back of you always.”
And so that has carried me through again as an encouragement.
At the very end of her life, she had two special people that she wanted to be there. I was able to allow everybody to come in and minister to people where she was at, and they could say their goodbyes.
Then I realized there was that special quiet, sacred sound that happens before someone dies, and I realized her two friends were sitting at her side. And I whispered, “Ruth, guess what? Your two friends are here, and there’s nobody else here.” And she took a huge smile and she took her last breath.
That is such a touching time for me because with Ruth she really encompassed all the different things I could do with her. I could even help her at the very last to be able to say, 'hey your very two favorite people on earth are here waiting for you.'
One of the most important things is that hospice – whether it’s palliative or hospice – is increasing the quality of life. Wherever you may find yourself, whether it’s in a palliative situation or hospice situation, a company like Crossroads has the ability to be able to serve you and raise the quality of your life and mold it to what you are comfortable with – in particular bringing your family with the love that you need at the time.
Brenda Anglin, RN, BSN
Crossroads Hospice & Palliative Care
*Name has been changed
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