Whenever you hear the word hospice, what comes to your mind?
Probably, you think about death, grief and suffering. Yes, the truth is that most people associate hospice care with sorrow and death. And that alone sends cold shivers down their spines.
No wonder most families will postpone referring their patient to a hospice even if they are suffering from a terminal illness and no curative medicine will work at that time.
To most people, hospice means the end of life and giving up all hope. But does it really? All these negatives of hospice care are nothing but myths. A good hospice will not kill their patients. It will however give them the best quality of healthcare and a glimmer of hope.
Last month, a priest who worked in our parish died of stomach cancer. He discovered that he was suffering from the terminal illness a few months ago and doctors told him that nothing could be done.
As would be expected, he was in denial and went abroad believing that he would get more sophisticated medical care. But it was all in vain. It was so sad to have him interred in a far off country yet he would have stayed back home, receive hospice care and make things right with his family awaiting death.
His mother was uncontrollable since we had travel bans in our country during her son’s burial. She had to make do with watching his funeral ceremony through a zoom link. It was bad, How I wish that he had hearkened to us and gone to a local hospice where he would have made peace with the fact that he was dying. This way, his old mother would have spent the last moments with him.
I have seen some stories of people believing that hospices are out there to kill people. Some people even believe that administering morphine to patients actually speeds up death. But that is not true. It just relieves pain and betters the quality of life of the patient.
There is even a Facebook group titled Murdered by Hospice where relatives of the deceased condemn some hospices. Michelle Young Doers has published a book titled ‘Killing for Profit: The Dark Side of Hospice’ where she talks about how hospices are killing people for profit. While I would not shake all this as hearsays and mistruths, I invite everyone to carefully examine what the role of hospice is and come up with their own conclusion.
Yes, there might be some hospices that collude with relatives to euthanize patients or speed up their deaths. But those are just some exceptions that are giving hospice care a bad rap.
When you sign up for hospice, you get more care than less. You will still be able to see your physician if you want and prepare for a peaceful transition. There is nothing bad as dying without having straightened things with your relatives or believing that death is indeed inevitable and has to happen.
I would give an example of an old throat cancer patient who stayed in our hospice for 5 years. He still saw his doctors and had made peace with his family members. When he eventually passed away, everyone believed that he had actually rested. It was gradual and peaceful.
Yes, we still had to console the family members but it was not such a bad scene as what would have happened had not made peace with the fact that his death was looming.