Finding Life in Hospice

In this post, I would like to introduce my amazing friend Vicki Sechler Toor and her blog Finding Life in Hospice. I am posting her blog entry here at Integrative Learning Solutions, and you can read more at

What is hospice….really?

Technically speaking, hospice is a Medicare benefit which is built to serve those individuals diagnosed with a life limiting illness.  If that illness goes untreated (no aggressive therapies) it will result in death.  The life expectancy is most likely six months or less and in California, hospice is a service, not a location. That being said, I consider hospice to be more of a philosophy than type of care.  Though there are strict Medicare guidelines that need to be followed by the provider, the overall philosophy or essence of hospice is to promote quality of life.  It is holistic in that it addresses issues of body, mind, and soul.  Furthermore, it allows for the education and support of loved ones included in the care of the individual. 

Care provided by hospice services include but are not limited to: skilled nursing, home health aides, social workers, spiritual counselors and volunteers.  A combination of staff is determined according to patient need and overseen by a physician.  Below is a poem included in the pamphlet “Gone From My Site” by Barbara Karnes, RN.  I have recommended this pamphlet to many families to help provide education, and hopefully some comfort while they walk with their loved one on the journey we call the “end stage” of life.

I am standing upon the seashore. A ship at my side spreads her white sails to the morning breeze and starts for the blue ocean.  She is an object of beauty and strength.  I stand and watch her until at length she hangs like a speck of white cloud just where the sea and sky come to mingle with each other.  Then someone at my side says:  “There, she is gone!”  “Gone where?”

Gone from my site.  That is all.  She is just as large in mast and hull and spar as she was when she left my side and she is just as able to bear the load of living freight to her destined port.

Her diminished size is in me, not in her.  And just at the moment when someone at my side says:  “There, she is gone!”  There are other eyes watching her coming, and other voices ready to take up the glad shout:  “Here she comes!”  And that is dying…

            Henry Van Dyke

Join me and become a part of the conversation.  One that offers positive, educational, and supportive dialogue that addresses the issues that arise during the stage of life we call death.  Together we can help our loved ones walk this path with dignity, compassion, and comfort.  Those values are the foundation of hospice.