Dying at Home

I have firsthand experience with Home Hospice and the dignity provided a loved one by allowing them to die at home surrounded by their loved ones and the familiar world that they lived. If possible, most people who I know, would want their last days to be at home and not in the sterile environment of the hospital. My wife and I fought cancer for 8 years. She requested Hospice assistance 3 months before cancer took her from our family. I have to admit that even with all that time to prepare that I never gave the death with dignity at home much real thought. It sounded good and I knew it was the way she wanted to die. She did not want to die, at all, but this was not to be avoided. The last 4 days of her life was a blur for me. Even with the knowledge of having signed up for Hospice assistance, and having applied for the “right to die” medication prescription, I was in a fog about what was about to happen and how to deal with it.

The real reason I feel compelled to write this article is the lesson that I am, only now, becoming aware of an important lesson. When my wife came home from the hospital, for the last time, and Hospice had set up the pain management medicine, Lauren (my sister-in-law) and I were left in the house to care for my lovely wife. We worked together as a team and it was going pretty well. There was some fear involved with the responsibility but we had been through many difficult experiences in the 8 years including emergency room visits, major surgeries, chemo therapy, doctor’s visits, and endless medical procedures and testing. Our Home Hospice nurse came the next day to check up on all of us and she increased the amount of pain medication and things seemed OK. With blessings for all of us, my wife passed away the next morning. I was not really prepared. I do not know why other than the blur and the denial that I must have felt at the time. BUT, one year later, I finally a woke to the realization that my wife dying at home was much more traumatic for me (and my sister-in-law) than I had been aware of at the time.

Death with dignity at home is a good thing for the patient but I am not sure how many of the involved family and friends are really well prepared for this experience. I appreciate Home Hospice and what they do. I just never considered how difficult dealing with my ghosts related to watching my beautiful wife die in our home would be for me. A century ago, people dying at home, surrounded by their family, was more common in the United States. This is still common in other cultures around the world but death and dying has been hidden well within the culture of the US where youth and beauty are worshipped, and sickness and death are hidden in hospital and retirement homes. Dying is an inevitable part of life. We can not escape it. We can be better prepared for the death of our loved ones and our own end of life.

My main point of this blog is to report that watching a loved one pass away at home can be more significant than we might be able to imagine. Prepare yourself. Hug your loved ones and friends. Live your life with as much vigilance as possible. Honor your spiritual needs.

I KNOW that my wife is in a better place. She is in a “bigger and better place than you can imagine” I believe. My life will continue and will hopefully find ways to be of service as I live with my “ghosts.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.