The brevity of life is sometimes difficult to comprehend. If only we had that crystal ball permitting us to look into the future. But we do not.
We are granted this one life on earth, yet we are not privy of knowing when our last day will be. Therefore, it is so important to make the most of every moment – of every day.
Despite working in end-of life care, and specifically hospice, for more than three decades, the reality of a short life span hit home recently when inviting my social media connections to “like” the Advanced Hospice Facebook page.
As I scrolled through the hundreds of contacts, I soon found myself passing over the names of friends who had passed at far too young of an age. I was astounded at the number of my friends who were no longer here. And then I thought about them individually and acknowledged each situation that took them away from this life. That realization made me consider my own mortality. What if I died suddenly? Was my life in order? What if I were to be diagnosed with a terminal disease? Would I be able to say that I have lived my best life?
Yes, some of these friends were given a terminal diagnosis and may or may not have received hospice care, and others were sudden and unexpected deaths. So, then I found myself wondering, if I could choose – which of course I cannot, what situation would I want with regard to my own death? Sudden, so I would not see it coming or predicted by disease prognosis?
So, then I found myself wondering, if I could choose – which of course I cannot, what situation would I want with regard to my own death?
Knowing how passionate I am about hospice care and the ability to realize a dignified death, I believe my choice would be to be diagnosed with a life-limiting illness. I fiercely believe that I would want to make the most of whatever time I had left. Sitting here typing as a healthy person, I can put onto paper what that means at this point. But who knows how I would feel if I was given a terminal diagnosis? I firmly believe, if told that I had a life expectancy of six months or less, I would be like “it’s time to get to work!” I would never lose hope that the medical professionals could be wrong, but I would live as though they were right.
I would write each of my loved ones a personal letter…beginning with my children. I would most likely apologize for any shortcomings I felt I had been responsible for in our relationship, but then I would let them know the impact that they had on my life. It is my belief that we are unique beings due to everyone that has touched our life along the way – whether
they were a love or a lesson, whether they brought laughter or tears, whether they were still a part of our life today or just a memory. Those “touches” create who we become. I would write my obituary from the viewpoint of the person I hope that I was. I would make sure to have closure wherever it was needed and then I would do what my body would physically allow.
And knowing what I do, I would most whole-heartedly welcome our hospice team in to care for me because I know that hospice teams are the specialists in end-of-life care and as much as I would want them to care for me physically, emotionally and spiritually, I would want to teach them from my perspective as the patient so that they could then take that hands-on knowledge to care for others once I became a memory.
The Advanced Hospice Team is comprised of individuals who have decades of experience in caring for this most vulnerable patient population. We believe that receiving a terminal diagnosis is not about giving up but LIVING the life that remains. We fully embrace our patients and their families as they complete life’s essential work and gain closure to the important tasks and relationships, while preserving the quality of life which allows them the opportunity to live each day with dignity and purpose.
About Advanced Hospice
Advanced Hospice is a local, family-owned, hospice and palliative care provider located in Western PA, servicing Allegheny, Beaver, Butler, Lawrence, and Washington Counties.
To learn more about Advanced Hospice, visit www.advancedhospicepa.com or