I was at work when I got the word that my mom had three months to live. I rushed to her house, entered without knocking, and joined her on the couch. There we sat. Not hugging. Not crying. (Those intimacies had never come easily to us.) Finally, Mom said, “In my will, you get Grandma’s silver. Let’s get it polished up so you can take it back with you.” I was horrified and changed the subject.
I realize now that she was trying to begin the conversation about her death. It would have been our chance to talk about what she was most afraid of and her hopes for the days ahead. But as one of my life’s greatest regrets, I missed the opportunity to help her. Mom never tried again—and I wasn’t brave enough to bring it up on my own.
What we needed in that moment was a hospice worker.
A caring, confident expert on end-of-life concerns could have guided us through the tough talks. Our hospice team would have helped our whole family open up to one another, putting words to what we’d been holding in our hearts for years. We had no idea hospice was even an option. Like so many other people, we thought hospice care was something you looked for when your loved one could no longer function on her own. You entered hospice when you had a couple of weeks or a few days to live. And we had three whole months to go. I wish everyone knew what I know now.
You can—and in my impassioned belief, should—enter hospice when your life is likely to end within six months.
Lifesprk hospice nurses will tell you, the number-one complaint from people receiving hospice services is that they wish they had started them sooner. And now I understand why. It would have been wonderful to have a hospice team walking alongside of us through my mom’s final months.
“I hate hearing the stories about how people missed out,” said Jennifer Weber, RN, Lifesprk Hospice Clinical Director. “They were on hospice for a couple days, and it hurts. It just hurts your heart to hear that, because you know the wonderful experience they could have had.”
Hospice workers care for you medically, emotionally, and spiritually. They answer questions too scary to speak out loud. They help you mend bridges, see possibilities, and make choices that will bring you the greatest peace. My wish for the people I love is that they embrace hospice early on.
Lifesprk Now Offers Hospice Services
Because hospice care focuses on so many aspects of your life, it’s a natural extension of Lifesprk’s whole person services. Lifesprk has always supported their clients in every essential element of their wellbeing. Now they can be there through the very end of your life, making sure your wishes are met, and each day is lived with spark, to its very fullest.
Lifesprk takes hospice personally. Their hospice service centers around a person’s hopes and preferences. “Fear and mortality are really big issues. For us to be able to deal with those concerns before the end-of-the-end is super important,” said Joel Theisen, BSN, Lifesprk CEO. “When we’re able to vet their questions and vet their worries, and get the family on the same team, aligned around that customer—then the end of life can be beautiful. It can be natural.”
It’s really about ensuring the best late life experience for you and your loved ones so you can finish your life knowing you lived magnificently.
Expect the Unexpected
What makes life meaningful? It’s different for everybody. But I can tell you this: What Lifesprk loves most is finding out what brings a person joy and doing whatever it takes to make it happen. Your concerns are their concerns.
- Are you unsure how to talk about end-of-life with your loved one? Tough conversations can be very emotional. Lifesprk gets that. They can help. They give you the information you need early on to make the right plan for you and your family.
- Is your dad worried he won’t be able to keep his dog if he can’t care for her properly? Maybe you’d like your hospice team to help you find a dog walker.
- Are you overwhelmed with calls from family and friends wanting to know how your mother is doing? You’ll get help to simplify that process.
- Is your father getting depressed because he can’t do activities that used to make him happy? Lifesprk can help find him other fulfilling ways to spend his time.
- Are you desperate for a break from caretaking? You’ll get help finding resources to relieve some of the pressure.
- Is your mom spending energy she doesn’t have, trying to keep her home tidy? Lifesprk can connect you to an affordable cleaning service.
The point is, Lifesprk sees your loved one as a whole person with worries, delights, and wishes. They take a no limits approach to making the most of every day.
Is It Time for The Talk?
What could be harder than suggesting your mom or dad consider hospice? If you’d like to talk it through, Lifesprk is there for you. They’ll help you understand your options so you can make an informed decision about whether or not hospice is the right choice.
It might help you to know that people who choose hospice tend to live longer than those who stay with traditional services. And not just longer—but better. With only months left to live, the stakes are high. People want their remaining time together to be rich and purposeful. Unforgettable.
If You’ll Allow Me, One Last Memory
I was visiting my mom in the hospital a few weeks before she died. I was just leaving her room when I turned back to look at her. I said quietly, “I love you, Mom.” There was the shortest beat before her eyes snapped open and she lifted her head off the pillow to stare at me. (We hadn’t said that to one another since I was a kid.)
Her face softened, and she said, “I love you too, dear.”
It was an isolated moment just before her death that filled my heart back up a little bit. And now I wonder what it would have been like if we’d had a hospice team helping us get to that place three months earlier. How much deeper could we have gone?
Lifesprk Hospice would be honored to help you and your family find greater strength, a sense of peace, and—very likely—some of the most meaningful times of your life. Reach out to their team for guidance on how you and your loved one can make the most of your late life experience.