Life Happens with Hospice

Life Happens with Hospice kitty-burtner

Kitty Burtner, RN
Hospice Program

My name is Kitty. Everyday, each hour of each day I hear stories that bring tears to my eyes, laughter to my lips and joy to my soul.

There are the stories from the hospice team as they return to The Chaplaincy after admitting a new patient, making a home visit or being with a family whose loved one just died. There are stories of our patients who continue to use humor and laughter to make difficult times easier. There are stories of the courage that leaves me breathless and wondering if I could possibly be that strong under the same circumstances. There are stories of families and patients who move from the shock of hearing the diagnosis to a place of acceptance and peace. There are stories of the healing of relationships and the joy of conversations about history and memories. We cherish hearing the amazement in family members voices as they tell a hospice patient, “I didn’t know that about you!”

The time the team spends sharing stories is a way for them to continue to do the work they do and to know that what they do makes a difference.

And then there are the stories that I hear, first hand, over the telephone or in the chapel at The Chaplaincy when people are seeking information about hospice. Often, our patients make the call themselves with the beginning statement: “Dr. told me to call you. He said there is no further treatment for my disease.” Through their stories of their illness and treatment, I hear their concerns about their families, their fear of death or the dying process, and their need for control and to maintain independence for as long as possible. As hospice team members, we are here to listen, to reassure and to insure that those seeking our assistance receive help in a timely manner. I receive calls from wives, husbands, daughters, sons, sisters, brothers, aunts, nieces, nephews, grandchildren and friends (as dear as family) who have been put in the position of making the call. They take the first step of starting the process of change from active treatment and rescue to comfort and compassionate care. Their stories, of the journey of their loved one, tell of their strength, courage, sadness and love beyond measure.

Lastly, there are the calls I receive from physicians. They have connections with their patients and their families… sometimes a very long history of caring. To be able to assure them that care will be provided and that we will be their eyes, ears and hands when their patient is no longer able to come to see them in their office. To assure them that we can be their connection, is a relief to the physician who no longer is able to cure but can continue to provide comfort through us.

All of the people that I hear from daily are a testimony to me of the strength, courage, and love in the human spirit…especially in facing death…life happens in abundance.