The 5 Stages of Grief: Denial

Dr Elisabeth Kubler Ross was a very interesting woman, and early in her career as a psychiatrist, she decided to take the unheard of approach of asking a dying patient directly about their dying. Conventional wisdom of the day was that you did not tell the person they were dying and that everyone else other…

Shared Story from Steven

My mom passed away a little over 2 years ago in South Florida (where my people go to die).  She was 96 and had lived long enough to outlive most of her family and her friends.  She was ready. Once when a doctor told her she would live to be 100, she told him, “Don’t…

My Loved One is Dying, Should I Stay or Should I Go?

As a hospice nurse I am frequently asked by family at the end of the day, “Should I stay or should I go?” or ” Call me if anything changes.” When a person is imminent the only change is death. The hard part is that a person can be imminent for many hours or days….

Liebster Award

    Thank you to Kerry McKim, author of the great blog Running Forward…My Way, for nominating me for a Liebster Award. Kerry shares her tumultuous emotional journey as a widow following the death of her husband Bryon on her blog found at kerrymckim.com The Liebster Award is an online award started in 2011 given…

Planning for the Home Death

Many, if not most of my patients, if given the choice, said they would prefer to die at home. In fact, I’ve spent half my career as a hospice nurse sitting at the bedside inside my patient’s home. The other half of my career was spent at the hospice care centers, and a smaller portion at…

Don’t Tell Dad He’s Dying

I once had a patient’s daughter pull me aside after her father had been admitted to the hospice care center.  “Don’t tell my dad he’s dying. He is too high anxiety, he won’t be able to take it. Seriously, it would kill him.” When I mentioned that my name tag had hospice written on it,…

Acceptance in the Now

I’ve had many interesting conversations with patients over the years, some of whom had rather different backgrounds from me to put it mildly. I remember one man in particular, much taller than me, mid forties, arms covered in gang tattoos, missing teeth, and thin as a rail. “You wouldn’t have liked the old me, Katarina”…

Turn Left Here

Was thinking back today of when a coworker of mine, an older nurse, had lost her husband of forty something years. She had just returned to work after taking some time off to grieve her loss. We were all particularly apprehensive when she came back as she had lost her son only a year before…

What Difference Would Hospice Care Make?

For those wondering what hospice is about, and more specifically, what difference would it make in a person’s life who is dying, let me explain it to you. To understand hospice you must first understand the idea of palliative care. Palliative care is an interdisciplinary team approach to treat any serious illness without an aim…

Can the Dying Hear Us?

I remember back when my dad was dying, and at this point unresponsive, to a time when our hospice nurse came to the house for a visit. We were all gathered in my father’s bedroom and watched as the nurse did her physical assessment. Being new at this point, to the whole dying experience, I…