Through the challenges and rewards of caring for a seriously ill loved one, it often helps to hear from other families: the obstacles they have faced and what pulled them through the hard times. Below are some stories from people who have dealt with situations perhaps similar to your own.
Dear Willamette Valley Hospice Staff,
I can never thank you enough for the kindness and care you showed Dan and me during our journey facing his cancer. From the first phone call to you in mid-summer to the last days of his life in November, we felt completely surrounded by love and support. He died peacefully – I will always be grateful that his journey into paradise was so calm. He certainly lived well and taught many of us how to die well. I know that the e-mails and calls he received from family members and friends telling him that they would no longer fear death because of how he prepared touched him so deeply.
Dan will be laid to rest with full military honors. And now I move forward, taking it one day at a time, crying when I need to and cherishing wonderful memories at other times.
We used the Caring Bridge website to keep friends and families updated on Dan’s journey. It is a wonderful resources that is available to all families.
Again, thank you for your kindness. Each one of you gently impacts more lives every day than you can ever imagine.
Lynda RohrbackReturn to top
Relief for Mom
Dad had ALS. As time progressed, he was less and less able to care for himself. Dad is a big man, and Mom has arthritis. She also has problems sleeping and is not very strong. She was getting exhausted with all the things she had to do for Dad. For instance, one day when she was helping him get out of the shower, he was wet and slippery and almost fell on the cold hard tile. Mom threw her back out catching him. It was not until some time later that we signed on with hospice. We learned then that they have bath aides who came out several times a week and gave Dad a bath. That alone was worth its weight in gold! Mom was freed from the hard physical labor and could concentrate on giving him her loving attention. I just wish we had signed on sooner. Hospice was good for both Mom and Dad!Return to top
Coping with suffering
When Pop was sick, the hardest thing for me was seeing him in pain. We had medications to give him, but we were worried he would get addicted. The nurse at hospice came out and taught us several things we could do. They provided us with a patch that kept him comfortable most of the time. And with hot compresses, we were able to relieve the sharp pains he would get now and then above his bladder. She also taught us some relaxation exercises we could do with him. We learned from her that people who are in pain don’t get addicted mentally the way people who aren’t in pain do. I guess the body knows the difference. That was a relief! As an added bonus, with hospice, Medicare paid for the medicines needed to keep Pop comfortable. But most of all, I was glad to see him out of pain. I couldn’t bear to see him suffer.Return to top
The kindness of strangers
My mother was diagnosed with breast cancer when I was 15. It was a rough and scary time. My dad had to keep working and I was the oldest, so I looked after my 2 sisters on the days when Mom wasn’t doing so well. It was Christmas time and we didn’t have much money. It didn’t look good. But one day this lady from hospice came and asked us each to make a Christmas list “for Santa”. I thought, “yeah, sure”. But I did it anyway. It turned out, Christmas morning, we had oodles of presents! A few volunteers at hospice took our list to store owners in the area and they donated our presents! My sisters and I were so surprised! We never even met these people, but they did so much for us. What seemed like a very grim holiday, turned out to have some joy in it simply because of the kindness of strangers.Return to top
Bringing church home
My sister has always been a religious woman. With her condition (congestive heart failure) she was not able to attend church. I live out of state, so I couldn’t take her. She got depressed. Understandably. She read the Bible at home. And we would pray together when we talked on the phone. But that wasn’t enough. Finally I called her church and talked to the pastor. It turns out they had just set up a caring circle project where members of the congregation come out to visit. They pray and sing together. (And truthfully she gets to catch up on the gossip.) The pastor also makes it a point to come visit now and then. It’s made a world of difference for my sister. Even though she can’t go to church, a little bit of the church is now coming to her.Return to top