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. Time…

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 enlighten 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 to cure….

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…

Do You Get It Now?

Many years ago as I sat through my first hospice orientation, I participated in an activity that was aimed at enlightening us to the fact that we were all entering our hospice patient’s lives at a time when the world as they knew it was becoming smaller and smaller. The exercise was supposed to get…

Should You be Worried That Your Loved One is Seeing Dead People?

No. This is actually quite common among those who are actively dying. Seeing dead loved ones or other unseen beings in the room oftentimes has a calming effect on the dying person in my experience. Generally, the dying person makes comment on seeing someone not for validation, but rather to inform. I once walked into…