My name is Kathleen and I have been a hospice nurse for over ten years. Death and Dying Chronicles is intended to answer the many questions patients and families have when they have been told they do not have long to live.
Like many of you, I did not think about death until it affected my own life. When my dad was diagnosed with terminal cancer, my husband and I decided to move the family across the country in order to spend more quality time with him in the time that remained. I had never heard of hospice. I had never had to care for my parents, they were always the ones taking care of us. My dad was only 66 when he died. I was there for the weekend that was supposed to be just giving my mom a break, but turned into being my dad’s last 5 days on earth. The experience changed my life. I went back to my home in Maine and went through the 50 hour training to become a hospice volunteer. During that time I was lucky enough to hear Dr Elisabeth Kubler Ross, a pioneer of hospice, speak so eloquently about her own declining health and struggles to accept help, as well as her life’s work of helping those who are dying achieve a good death experience. As my children grew older I wanted to do more and so I went back to school to become a nurse specializing in hospice care, primarily those patients in the last two weeks of life. As an LPN with over ten years at the bedside, I’ve had many difficult conversations with dying patients and families in their homes, at the hospital, in their nursing home and in hospice care centers. I’ve held hands and listened, shared tears, managed symptoms, collaborated with doctors, social workers, chaplains, health aides and family members, all to ensure the best care for each individual on their final journey. My hope is that this site will provide you with information to make even a part of this journey you are on less scary. Too many dying patients shared that it was not so much death they feared, but the process of dying which terrified them. If they had only known what questions to ask, what options they had, so as to better prepare. I am here to try and give you the information you need to ask those questions, and prepare for what you want in these final days so that you may find your own peace in a good death experience.
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