A neighbor of mine flew to a clinic in Switzerland to be euthanized. She had moved to Israel 18 months earlier to be close to her sister after being diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor. What saddened me most was the extent of the hopelessness she must have been feeling.
Those of us who have worked in hospice believe that hopelessness is related to fear — of the unknown, of pain, and of being a burden to others. Hospice’s goal is to try to alleviate these fears. We strive to recognize the source and treat the pain, be it physical, emotional, or spiritual in nature. Our care however, is not only for the patient. We do all we can to support the patient’s family and friends so that they are better prepared to deal with the caring needs and, eventually, the loss of their loved one.
Our hope is that by alleviating these fears the patients are able to spend meaningful time with those they love, so that they feel that whatever time they have left is worth living.
One of our patients said that the best days of his life were the days he spent in hospice. He had a terrible childhood and was alienated from his family. He said that for the first time in his life he felt loved. If he had been euthanized when he was first diagnosed with cancer he would have died never having known what it is like to be loved.
While this is an extreme case, it reinforces the need to get the word out about hospice so that “no one should have to die alone or in pain” ( Dame Cecily Saunders ).
Our deepest gratitude to Weinstein “Friends of Hospice” who provide us with the support we need to do this privileged work.
I would like to thank all our patients and their families who allow us into their lives and share their stories with us.
Talya Bloom, RN