“We were scared to take hospice. We thought it meant giving up.”

Sometimes the first reaction to the word hospice is “But we’re not ready to give up!” Hospice is not about giving up or losing hope. Hospice is about comfort care.

Comfort care is choosing quality of life as the priority. It is letting go of treatments that aren’t helping. It is saying no to medical interventions that cause distress but provide no lasting benefit.

Comfort care is about relieving pain and uncomfortable symptoms. Comfort care is also about providing needed support so a person can do the things they want to do in the time remaining.

For some, tending to their loved one’s comfort doesn’t seem like doing enough. Often it feels easier to “do something” rather than to simply be with a person. The feelings of powerlessness can seem overwhelming.

Yet this season is a special time in life. It’s a chance to say the loving things that need to be said and do things we may have put off. It’s a chance to listen to family stories and a time to tie up loose ends.

The risk in denying that our loved one has entered a different season is that we may be so busy seeking medical treatments and “doing something” that we run out of time for the things we’ll want to remember. This season is an opening, an opportunity that requires courage.

-Excerpted from A Different Season, The Hospice Journey by G. Leigh Wilkerson, RN