One of the fundamental beliefs of Crossroads Hospice & Palliative Care is that no one should die alone. When a patient begins to show signs and symptoms that death is approaching, our team begins what we call Evenmore Care. A staff member sits beside to support the patient and their family until they pass away.
This is a sacred time and it’s an honor and a privilege to be able to care for patients through this transition. We asked some of our staff to share some stories about what this experience is like.
Love Me Tender
Recently, one of our favorite home patients passed away.
I usually went to see her at 2pm, but for some reason that day I asked to go in the morning instead. We got there, and she wasn’t too responsive. After I completed her personal care, her son became very emotional so I decided to spend some extra time with him. I asked him if it was okay to pray with him, and that’s what we did.
I had already gone past the amount of time I would typically spend with her when we could see she was starting to transition.
She loved Elvis Presley, and she had recently had her Gift of a Day with an Elvis impersonator and over 50 friends and family there with her. I pulled up some Elvis Presley songs on Pandora, and put my phone on her pillow with the speaker near her ear. Then I called our chaplain to join us.
Two-and-a-half hours later, she transitioned into her death, listening to Elvis and me singing her favorite songs.
Kamiesha Green, Hospice Aide
As the Deer
Not long ago I was sitting Evenmore Care with a mother, wife, and grandmother in her home. I began to sing because I believe in the power of music and it’s connecting and comforting power. The family enjoyed the music and softly sang along with the songs they knew.
I asked the husband what the patient’s favorite song was and he told me about “their song.” Of course, we looked it up and put the speaker close to her so she could hear. Although unresponsive until that point, she squeezed her husband’s hand as the song played. We witnessed an inkling of a smile.
When it seemed like there were no more songs to be sung, I offered one more – a calming spiritual song entitled, “As the Deer.” The lyrics compare how a deer pants for water to how the soul longs after things not of this world. As the song ended, two fawns appeared at the window.
She passed the next day. I remember this as a sacred moment where music, family, friends, and nature merged to bring a precious person to her final resting place.
Krissy McKim-Barker, Volunteer Manager
The Armies of Heaven
I briefly sat Evenmore Care with a gentleman and his wife. He had been on Evenmore Care for more than a week.
As we sat together, his wife told me about his history. Born in Germany, he had been conscripted into the Hitler Youth as a child. Then their family left Germany and came to the United States. Here, he learned about life in the United States and around the world compared to Germany at that time and became a devoted American patriot. He proudly served in the Korean War for the United States.
I was there for about an hour and a half during a shift change. His wife and family said that he hadn’t eaten for that week and couldn’t talk. They kept saying, “We don’t know what he’s waiting for. We’re ready. We’re at peace. We’re just not sure what is keeping him here.”
In the next room, I saw a piano. I enjoy playing the piano and often play for hymn sings. I began to play hymns including some popular military hymns, knowing he was in the next room and could hear them. I played for 30-40 minutes. Then I asked if I could pray with them.
Then the patient passed away. His family suggested that maybe he believed the armies of heaven had come to take him home.
His wife told us that she felt so cuddled and taken care of through that whole time and was so appreciative. She said she didn’t know where she would have been without Crossroads.
Jeff Stenger, Chaplain
The Love of His Life
I was sitting bedside with a patient a while back as she was passing. She and her husband were together for 75 years. It was her, him, and me.
He decided to lay on the couch next to her bed to take a nap. She passed within a half hour after him falling asleep. I had to wake him up and tell him that she had passed. He proceeded to go sit beside her bed for a good hour and just stare at her. He would rub her cheek and kiss her forehead every few minutes and look up at me and ask me if I was sure she was gone.
A few minutes later he would rest his hand on her chest to make sure she wasn’t breathing, and he would look up again and ask me if I was sure she was gone.
He shared with me a glimpse of their life and how they had met. He shared stories about raising a family and her being the love of his life. I sat with him for some time just listening and being present in that moment.
I provided him reassurance and comfort in his darkest hour. In that moment, I learned a whole lot about life and its purpose. The 75 years of the life they had built and all of the possessions they had acquired came down to a few moments in which nothing else mattered besides him being there when she was taking her final breaths.
In those moments, there was nowhere else in the world I would have rather been. It was by far the most humbling experience I have ever faced.
Kacie Householder, Social Worker
Evenmore Care is just one of the unique programs Crossroads offers patients. To learn more about our services, please call 1-888-564-3405.
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