My dad was in the veterans hospital with TB for a year before he died – I was just 5 years old, so was not allowed in to visit him in the hospital. It was then that my mother started her tradition of not allowing me to see a friend or relative except as they had been when they were alive.
So when my 16-year old son Mike was killed in a car accident a few days after Christmas 1964, it was my first time being exposed to death. Just 4 years later, my husband Brad drowned in the Gulf of Mexico while on a boat going out to the rig where a co-worker was in need of supplies. His body was never found.
Later in life, I cared for my mom in Chicago who was bedbound for five years until she died. My son Brad was living in Illinois, and encouraged me to move up to Wisconsin Rapids to be close to my daughter, Patty. We’d lived far apart for a long time, and it was time to spend more time together.
Patty was always marching to the tune of a different drummer. She had a delightful sense of humor, and was an “in your face” type of person. She was very talented. She loved life, nature, playing computer games and reading (especially the Bible). It was really a blow when we learned she had very advanced liver cancer at the age of 61. One never expects to outlive their children, and twice is too much.
Knowing she had just a short time left to live, Patty wanted to be home with her kitty and her two boys, so Ministry Home Care - Hospice was called to help. I was introduced to the personnel, including the chaplain, who I liked very much. A week later, though, her fight was over.
For the first time, I was not alone with death.
I did not know that hospice was going to support me for a full year. Right up past the anniversary of my daughter’s death, I received phone calls, mail that helped me deal with my grief, and invitations to grief support meetings.
Each of the Healing Journey newsletters Ministry Home Care sent me contained information and poems that related to where I was at during that time of my grief. I learned it was okay to cry when you want to cry, and laugh when you want to laugh. I learned that everyone grieves their own way – some people need more support, and others need less. Hospice provides whatever level of grief support people need. There are not enough words to describe the love and care hospice gives when it is most needed.