I had a grandfather and Heather had a grandmother who passed away under hospice care. Elizabeth Edward's recent death has brought the value of hospice care to the top of the news, and that is a good thing. In an article about her death, Eleanor Clift notes:
The experience made me a believer. Tom [Clift's husband] had endured all kinds of draconian treatments. When those treatments were exhausted, and the cancer was advancing, his oncologist suggested hospice. I remember being upset at first because I knew it was the end of the road, but it was time, and for someone whose death is inevitable and imminent, spending those last days at home is the gift that hospice offers. Its holistic approach to health care provides counseling along with pain medication.
Elizabeth was a champion of hospice, both the comfort it brings and the reality that it helped her face. She put it best in a statement meant for hospice and palliative care workers in the fall of '08 when she said, "Throughout my life, both personally and professionally, I have had the opportunity to see how people have been affected by illness and loss and the role the healthcare system may have played as they dealt with change in their lives. I also know that people can find a great deal of hope, even in the most challenging of life's situations. Hospice and palliative care professionals support and care for people at a time when hope can be hard to find. The professionals of NHPCO know more than I will ever know about providing that care; I know more than I wish I knew about receiving it, and I am happy to share my perspective with them."
End of life decisions are very difficult, complicated and heart-wrenching things. Hospice is probably the best option (when available) to provide pain mediation, the presence of family, and dignity.