We have known several people who have been diagnosed with terminal disease. They have all gone through the process of diagnosis, treatment options, prayer, and ultimately acceptance. Once they accepted the fact that they were indeed at life’s end, many reacted as if they were filled with relief. Their journey was close to ending.
We just lost a good friend, who met Jesus face to face in our local hospice home. We had been to see him twice since his moving there, and were pleased to see the wonderfully peaceful but very attractive surroundings he was living in. Every single person we met was kind, and went out of their way to assist every person that walked through their doors. But the thing I watched for, and was privileged to see, was the staff’s interaction with their patient, our friend.
I saw love being shared; concern for comfort, great big warm smiles, a hand on a shoulder for encouragement. Our friend seemed to relish the care he was receiving. He told us he had been afraid of going to a nursing home, so when the doctor was able to arrange for him to move to the hospice house, though he was nervous about going there, he quickly realized this was a very good place to be.
I met one nurse who seemed to have made our friend her favorite patient. She always popped her head in the door whenever she was headed up or down the hall. She came in and talked with the patient, and everyone else in the room. She would plump his pillows, adjust his bedding, give him water, etc. She was so attentive, and yet she was not intrusive. That is a hard balance to achieve, but this gal sure did it. It brought me a measure of comfort knowing our friend was in great hands.
God was merciful and our friend lived at the hospice house a total of ten days. Up until the last 3 days, he was doing very well. Then suddently he took a turn, though the staff made sure he was still comfortable. They called his wife regularly, to keep her informed. They spoke with her and her son, to help them understand what was likely to happen, and they made sure they had everything they needed whenever they were visiting. Yesterday morning the staff called them in, very early, because there were some definite changes in him overnight, and they wanted them to be there with him.
Our friend went peacefully. He went before it was originally thought, but God is the definer of our days, not man. He lived his last few days peacefully, comfortably, and with his loved ones by his side. God blessed him, and his family. Hospice showed its beauty, in the care and concern, the mission of assisting patients and families at this difficult stage of life. A mission of love.
‘We are comfident, I say, and would prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord.’ 2 Corinthians 5:8 (NIV)