If you’ve ever been in the hospital you know it can be an intrusive experience.  It’s loud and extremely busy.  Machines beeping, IV bags dripping, doctors’ rounds, blood taken for labs, physical therapy and medications and a constant flow of people in the hallway.

For a private person this environment has the potential to be a real shock to the system, a place that literally strips someone down and then summarizes them on a chart.  Nurses are the first line of defense against intense discomfort for their patients, and we were incredibly blessed with women who cared for my mom with a combination of gentleness and camaraderie that set her mind at ease.

While the hospital’s nurses gave their best every single day, moving to Hospice Home introduced us to an entirely different level of care.

I am so extraordinarily grateful for our Hospice Home.  Its sole purpose is to provide care for seriously ill patients as each moves through their final stage in life, and this was exactly what mom needed last month.  But I had no idea what a gift we’d received until we got there.

Everything was suddenly so peaceful – no more beeping machines, needles, or staff bustling up and down the halls.  We were in a lovely room with a large window overlooking the trees, a special treat for mom when it began to snow.  There was soft colored wallpaper and a CD player that spilled mom’s favorite Frank Sinatra songs throughout the room, and we brought along all of her favorite photos to display.

Hospice was originally opened as a 6-bed facility, and though it’s expanded to 22 rooms it still feels remarkably like a home.  We frequently used a “family room” that had a table and couch for meals or meetings, and there are several other private gathering areas throughout the facility.  There’s a kitchen so you can cook food in the microwave or store it in the fridge, and coffee’s available around the clock.

These are the ways the facility itself made a difference in our lives, but the true mercy in Hospice Home comes through their incredible nurses.

These women took such wonderful care of my mom.  Every morning they bathed her, gave her a soft cotton gown (no more of those awful hospital gowns!), helped make her comfortable, and then spritzed on her favorite perfume.  They were carefully attuned to mom’s every response, monitoring her for any sign of pain, and if we called them because of something we saw they were quick to relieve mom’s discomfort.  They watched over her, day and night, to keep her as comfortable as possible.

The nurses also took care of our family.  They told us exactly what was happening with mom as well as what we could expect as time went on.  There were also a few times when a nurse would encourage us to “take a break” while they helped mom, knowing that families don’t always take care of themselves.

I was especially grateful for how carefully they watched over my dad.  He and I spent that week in the same space but were coming from two very different perspectives, and it eased my mind immeasurably that these women cared as much for his well-being as they did my mom’s.  He spent every night at Hospice, and I knew they would watch over him while he waited with her.

That was an incredibly difficult week for our family, but the nurses at Hospice gave us the most amazing gift – time to spend with mom as she prepared to move out of this world, in an environment designed to help her live out her last days as comfortably as possible.  The kindness and grace showed by mom’s nurses were beyond measure, and it’s a gift I’ll always treasure.

My post as part of Colline’s My Gratitude Project.