Jenny Buckley, RN, BSN, CHPN spoke at Weinstein Hospice’s Annual Memorial Service that was help on Sunday February 25, 2018. What follows are her remarks that she made at the service.
Hello. My name is Jenny Buckley and I am one of the Weinstein Hospice team members. Many of you may have met me on your first exposure to Weinstein and let me say with sincerity that I am so grateful for the trust you shared with me by going forward with our program. I am humbled to be among you again today.
In my many years of hospice experience, I have, admittedly, developed some phrases I am guilty of repeating often. If I was the nurse that came to see you first, I may have, in fact, said these things to you. For example, I often say, it is never anyone’s best day when I show up. I get that. Even though I know the tremendous gifts hospice care can provide to patients and families, I understand that it is only with a heavy heart that one contemplates the need for hospice care. I am also guilty of repeatedly saying that while I have a bag of tricks that can treat a myriad of symptoms, there is no quick fix for the inherent sadness in this process. I get that, too.
In those first meetings, I understand that a lot of what I might say won’t penetrate and that words fail in such moments of import.
But words… words are my thing. They are the currency I use to try and express my empathy and my desire to assist.
Today, sharing this time with you, with my heart full and my throat tight, I have words to share. Words that again may fail, but I’d like to share, nevertheless.
First and foremost, thank you. Thank you for sharing your loved one with us. Thank you for sharing this most vulnerable and intimate time in your family history with us. Thank you for allowing us to learn from your experience so that we may be better prepared in caring for others in the future. Thank you for reminding us to treasure each day and the loved ones with whom we share those days.
People think hospice care is sad for the people that do it and, at times, it certainly can be. But all of us on the Weinstein team would be quick to acknowledge that our days, our experiences produce a surreal level of gratitude. We understand the privilege of what you’ve invited us to share and we want you to know that. We are blessed with observing some of the most incredible and beautiful acts of humanity in our work that many other healthcare professionals don’t get to see. And, while not always easy, we see our work as tasking us with grabbing gratitude in our own lives because we can have lunch with Mom, take a walk with our sister on the beach, kiss our spouse goodnight.
It is also important for each of you to know that we have not forgotten your loved one. Every single one of you here brought someone special to us and even though we do this every day, we want you to know that we often think of the person you shared with us. We speak of them. We pray for them. We learned from them. Today, we will light candles in honor of them. And we do most definitely honor them. Please hear US when we say that we know that while we light a candle for them today, the flame of their memory burns in your heart every second, of every minute, of every hour, of every day, of every month, of every year. Forever.
I’ve often said the most special aspect of hospice care is the attention it pays to family and caregivers and loved ones equal to the actual patient. Today you are here because the “patient” has died- your spouse, your parent, your sibling, your child, your loved one. We see the candle flame that burns in your heart and we are so glad that you have brought that here to share with us all. We haven’t forgotten the way they loved you and the way you loved them. We do understand that each and every one of you long for one more conversation, one more hug, or simply one more moment. We wish that for you, too.
Finally, I want to remind you of one very important truth because grief is awful and it can play unkind tricks on one’s mind. I provide this example. One of my dearest friends shared her Dad with Weinstein Hospice before he died in September and I considered it a very special privilege. His stay on hospice was approximately 10 days and at times seemed to stretch unmercifully. The moment after her Dad died, my sweet friend told me that she finally understood why I loved my work so much. She said, “he was so peaceful. I’ll never forget that”. I have been with her many times in the months since his death and she undoubtedly grieves her father deeply. However, when her brain sends her back to the dark place of the day he died and she had to say good-bye to him, her heart reminds her that her Dad was comfortable, he was clean, he was surrounded by family, and he was listening to his favorite country/western music.
I imagine each of your brains often send you back, especially in this first year, to the moments surrounding your loved one’s death. It is part of this process. I hope that your heart also reminds you that you had the courage to initiate hospice care and because of that choice you gave that person, that beloved person, the absolute very best that they could have wished for in their last days on Earth. You deserve praise for your choice. You need to be reminded you were strong for the loved one that needed you. And that is why you are here.
As the philosopher Ram Das most famously said, ultimately, we are all just walking each other home. Thank you for letting us be part of that journey with you.