A long time ago now, I read Joy Snell’s The Ministry of Angels (Secaucus: Citadel Press, 1977; c1959). In it, Joy recounts how she knows a person will live or die. If live, a white angel appears at the head of the bed; if die, a dark and hooded angel, at the foot of the bed.
And that was the state of our knowledge in 1959, before, as far as I recall, there was a field of hospice care.
Now longtime reader Barbara Petersen, a 20-year hospice nurse, illustrates just how far things have gone in her newly-published book, Demystifying Hospice: The Secrets of Navigating End-of-Life Care. I’ve asked her if I can post from it.
I have to tell you I wept when I read the following passage because the kernel of everything I spent years researching for New Maps of Heaven was stated right there. I was so happy to see it all out there now.
If all of us really got what Barbara is saying, that death is but a leaving of one body to set off in another body on the next leg of an endless journey, it would cause a revolution around the world. It would take away the one overmastering fear we all share: the fear of death.
A fear that is totally unjustified, based on false paradigms and mistaken beliefs. Dispelled immediately when we see that we are indeed not our physical bodies.
Barbara injects a note of realism into our estimations of what occurs immediately before and at the moment of death.
In addition, her book candidly describes the “nuts and bolts” of giving care to hospice patients. Barbara delivers important and necessary information as well as some uncomfortable truths about the process and the business behind it.
Hers is a needed and accessible resource for families and all levels of caregivers of hospice patients. I think her book will help folks know what to expect and how to better help these patients during their final months, weeks, or days
Demystifying Hospice: The Secrets of Navigating End-of-Life Care
Dispelling Myths: Morphine Kills
The most common example of a hospice myth is about the use of morphine. Some report that morphine caused their loved one’s death because they noted that the person died soon after receiving a dose.
From my experience, I can tell you all the ways that this phenomenon was interpreted, understood, explained, justified, and rationalized by family and/or the hospice staff.
Following is a list of many of the possible things that might have happened between the time the medication was given and the time the patient died. You might think of others.
“They gave the medication… AND THEN… the patient died!” But what happened during the IN BETWEEN time?
• The patient’s pain was relieved.
• The patient’s breathing was no longer labored.
• The patient’s anxiety was reduced.
• The patient’s agitation went away.
• The patient saw a deceased relative welcome them.
• The patient realized they didn’t have to be afraid.
• The patient was welcomed by a figure central to their religion and was not afraid.
• The patient recognized that they were forgiven for all their transgressions.
• The patient’s spirit let go of the need to stay alive for someone else.
• The patient took the hand of their deceased spouse, child, parent, or lover and left with them.
• The patient reviewed their life’s happy moments.
• The patient reviewed their life’s sad moments but saw them as lessons learned.
• The patient realized they didn’t have to be afraid of the medicine.
• The patient saw the bright white light that so many others have reported and felt at peace.
• The patient recognized that all their family members would be fine and that their dying was not going to be a crisis for them.
• The patient recognized that their family members have been fantastic about ensuring the quality of their life during the dying process, and when they are gone, the family will not have to do that any longer.
• The patient accepted their desire and ability to let go.
• THEN they died!
I hope this list will help families and patients reduce their fears about morphine. I also hope that if, and when, they are asked about it, they will feel comfortable sharing some of these ideas.
Demystifying Hospice candidly describes the “nuts and bolts” of giving care to hospice patients. Writing from her 20 years of experience as a hospice nurse, Barbara delivers necessary information as well as some uncomfortable truths about the process and the business behind it.
A valuable and accessible resource for families and all levels of caregivers of hospice patients, this book helps us know what to expect and how to better help these patients during their final months, weeks, or days.
Where to Buy Demystifying Hospice
Barbara’s book is available from several sources.
Author Spots: The book is now available on an online book marketplace called Author Spots. From here, you can purchase signed copies or get a downloadable PDF: https://authorspots.com/your-hospice-navigator/
Lulu: It is also available (unsigned) directly from my book-printing site. It is this link that is the most efficient way to purchase multiple books. https://www.lulu.com/shop/barbara-petersen/demystifying-hospice/paperback/product-84z62wg.html
Zelle, includes directly requesting a book from me, from the contact info below: Locate [email protected] Please note; If we’ve met and I’ve given you a book, you only pay for the book, which is $17.95. If you order it by contacting me personally and I need to send the book, the payment will include $4.00 for postage, making the total $21.95
I’m using these sites because Amazon only gives the author 30% and the other sites give 90-100%. In our ‘immediate gratification’ world, some things just aren’t set up to honor the work done by the author and by using the USPS, you’ll still get the book in just a few days.
Kindle Ebook: The book also is available as an ebook on Amazon’s Kindle at https://www.amazon.com/Demystifying-Hospice-Navigating-End-Life-ebook/dp/B0CM2LJWSR/
Please share this information to extend the reach about explaining the ‘nuts and bolts’ of hospice to others.
Mahalo nui loa-thank you very much,
Thank you for your leadership in hospice care, Barbara!