During my six years of working in hospice, I have had the great honor of walking alongside so many amazing patients and families. Part of the joy in my work comes from the fact that the patients and families teach me so much, sometimes so much more than I can teach them. I would like to share a few of the lessons I carry with me every day.
“Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff”
I visit people from many different walks of life and as they are nearing the end of their days, I often find myself in awe of patients who live by the idea of “don’t sweat the small stuff.” I had a patient who suffered from a disease that limited her physical ability so much that she had to stay in her recliner most of the time. In spite of this, she was still able to laugh, share her stories about meaningful times in her life, and focus on what she was able to do. She would tell me she did not want to spend her energy worrying about things she could not change, and instead focused on living each day. I can still hear her laughter and is a great reminder when I am stressing over “small stuff.”
The Power of Friends and Family in Times of Need
I have the privilege of witnessing some of the most tender and genuine moments in the care of some patients. I will never forget a daughter comforting her dying mother, telling her that she will always be with her, in every butterfly and flower she sees. At the end of our lives, the stuff around us is not the most important, it is the people who matter. Taking the time to let those around us know how much we love them and what they mean to us is a great gift at the end of life. I have also learned to be more intentional about saying these very things now–not waiting until I am dying to say the important things.
Enjoy the Life You Have
I have heard so many patients say that life has passed in the “blink of an eye.” Patients have instructed me to take the time to travel, spend time with friends and family, and take time to do the activities I want while I still physically am able. I have seen patients from ages 100+ to pediatric. One thing in common for so many is that life seems short, so spend the time we have by loving what we do and who we spend it with.
I have been profoundly impacted by this amazing work in hospice, so much more than I could put into words. I am thankful to each and every person I have come into contact with in hospice because of what I have learned and how I have grown both personally and professionally. I will always carry these words and lessons in my heart every day.
Liz Sansom, LMSW
Social Worker Coach
Heart ‘n Home Hospice & Palliative Care, LLC