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Do you have a hospice story to tell?

We would like to publish your hospice story. Whether it was an experience with Hospice of Michigan, another hospice, or even an experience with a death where hospice was missing, we want to hear your story.

Please note: we wish to respect the privacy of patients and their families, so please do not include last names in your narrative.


Frances McCormick, RN, Oakland County

Neighbors come to the rescue. One of my patients, Richard, passed away last January. Richard became gravely ill around the holidays and his daughter and son-in-law took him in and cared for him. He enjoyed looking outside, so his son-in-law decided to build an ice rink in the back yard so he could watch the grandkids and neighborhood kids skate. Frank was just about finished building the rink when he had to go in for knee surgery. While he was in the hospital, the ice rink broke. The neighbors knew that Frank and his daughter were going to surprise him with an ice rink because they knew this would be their last Christmas together, so they rebuilt the ice rink for them. Throughout Christmas and New Year, Richard was able to enjoy the sunshine and the laughter of his grandkids and family as they skated around the rink.

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Carrie, Macomb County

Fullfilling a wish. We had a close and special friendship from the start. Her with having only boys, and I with one. I called her my "girly girl." she loved having her hair done and makeup applied at my visit. Her husband stated that on the day of my visits she always wanted to go somewhere special afterwards. They were the only times she felt like getting out since progressively getting worse with her cancer. She shared much advice about raising boys with me, we laughed and cried together. On the day of her 80th birthday, I helped her with her dressing and applied makeup. Her family added the finishing touch with a tiara and boa. What fun she had that day! She began to decline quickly after that. She shared her faith with me and we spoke about our children and their church involvement. She had been able to write letters to 2 of her boys, and had not gotten to the youngest. Rapidly declining, she asked if I would make sure her younger son knew how important it was to have the Lord in his life. That day that would be her last, I arrived to find her bedridden. She stated that my girly girl was not doing well at all. Quickly the nurse was called and on her way. Her family was called to her home. While still with us, I was able to communicate her passion about her faith to her children and how she had stated that she wanted her youngest to not give up on his faith. We all cried. The son stated that he was grateful his mom got her wish, and how much she meant to all of them. After the last relative stopped by she peacefully passed. I will never forget this lovely Lady, my girly girl.

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Anon

Hospice is a Heaven-sent experience. My now husband's mother used the services of Hospice in 1984-85 in home for his father in 1994-95, it is a lasting impression for the rest of the families' lives. The care and concern, the extra pat's on the back for the family at these times. I myself: 4 years ago a new facility, Lifespan Good Samaritan Hospice Residence in Battle Creek MI just opened. Mom was the first resident and got to pick out her own room. At that time she was still alert and was excited.

Mom was a retired nurse for 50 years and I retired after 40 years and God bless the nurses and tech's. They are a rare breed of people, so giving of themselves for the well-being of those in the "sunset" of their lives.

All of our experience have been in the Battle Creek MI. We still stay in touch with some of the staff. Thank you for being you the people of hospice.

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Anon

Dean. Dean became a Hospice of MI patient in Mid-December, and was released from the hospital. And so our journey began. Dean was a feisty, elderly man of slight build. Dean's greatest wish was to come "home". Home is the senior living facility where I work. When Dean arrived back into the building, we were not sure how long he was going to be with us. However, once Hospice of Mi came on board, and he was back in his apartment, he quickly rebounded. Dean began to teach us how to live. He did not want to be confined to a hospital bed; he wanted his own bed. He wanted to sit in his own chair. Having no immediate family in the area, the staff quickly became Dean's "family".

Dean taught us about the simple pleasures in life. It was all about fast food, ice cream and coke. It was about watching TV and listening to Frank Sinatra on the CD player. As winter turned to spring, it was about walks outside, sitting in the sun, and looking at flowers.

Dean could also be demanding. He conned all of us into going to get fast food, snacks and drinks for him. He especially loved Karen (the hospice aide), who would take a list from him, and get him everything he wanted. If you did not get Dean what he wanted quick enough, he would become irritable. When we had to remind Dean that we were doing the best we could, he would look at us with his warm, big, brown eyes and thank us. You could never leave Dean's room angry; or if you did, you could not stay angry long. Dean had a special relationship with one of his care givers. The two of them had many "spirited" discussions. But there was always a great love and respect for each other.

Dean also knew the difference between those that loved him, and those that felt an obligation to visit him. He had no patience for those that felt an obligation. For the staff at my facility and the Hospice Workers and Volunteers who truly loved Dean, we truly received more from Dean than we gave. His door was kept ajar, and we would often sneak in and visit him during lunch hours, after work, or even during the day. (Thank God our bosses loved Dean as much as we did!) The visits for us were an honor.

Dean was very resistant about having a Hospice volunteer come visit until he met Joe. I think Dean was the only one who could call Joe "Joey". ("Joey" is in his 30's and has a family!) Dean would ask Joe to take him outside, and bring him chips and pop. I know Dean and Joe both valued those visits. Dean also had someone buy him a bottle of wine, so that he could offer his visitors a drink. Once again, Dean was too busy teaching us about living rather than dying.

Dean was very seldom in any pain. As time progressed, he became weaker and thinner. However, you didn't see that when you went to visit him. All you saw was Dean: with his great sense of humor, his warm brown eyes, and his great spirit.

Dean passed away very quietly on June 30th, in the evening. When my boss called me, we were both devastated. We always thought we had one more day with Dean. I had been in to visit with Dean earlier in the day, and had brought him a snow cone. When I left that night, he was eating ice cream, and I told him I would see him tomorrow. He nodded his head yes, and waved goodbye. Dean kept on living until the moment he died. Dean's journey was everything Hospice of MI states in their goal "to help each person live as fully as possible and to help the family and loved ones participate in the person's care."

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Anon

I have so many stories. The one that comes to mind is a gentleman who had no children of his own. He had two nephews who were not unmarried and owned a construction company. When the gentleman started hospice care, the nephews wanted to learn everything to keep him comfortable. They became his caregivers. The gentleman told me he knew he could always count on those boys.It was a great feeling to work with this family.

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Mike

I believe in the hospice system. My wife of nearly 30 years (and we were together nearly 31 years) was in a hospice known as Odyssey House, in Southfield, Michigan. She had suffered with endometrial cancer (the lining of the uterus) for about 6 years, and had previously had breast cancer, which she had beaten. She had already suffered a great deal, and was unable to do many things which she formerly had been able to do with ease. We both knew it was the end, to be arriving very soon. So one day she told me that she wanted to be in a hospice.

We contacted the Odyssey House, and the next day a representative came to interview us, and the day after that she was in the hospice. Everyone there was very friendly, but as I walked out of her room, I began to sob uncontrollably. The nursing director put her arm around me, and we sat down in a library, and I told her about my wife and our life together.

That was November 18th, 2009. Very quickly my wife went about making friends with everyone in the hospice, other patients and the staff as well. The staff had never seen anything like that. And she was having 10 - 20 - 30 visitors a day, as well. The staff had never seen anything like that either. She was a favorite of theirs.

My wife had always been very gregarious, and had been a political consultant as well as being a physician. She continued to keep this up until about a week before she died, when she said to me, "I can't do this anymore." A week later, on December 10th, 2009, she passed away. She had loved living, so she fought against dying as hard as she could.

As much as we had attempted to prepare ourselves for her death, it was still a crushing experience for me, as we had loved each other very much. It was a second marriage for both of us, as she had been widowed with 2 very young children at the age of 32, and I was coming out of a divorce. I had a large part in raising her 2 sons, who are now adults, and we maintain a very close relationship with each other.

Being in the hospice helped a great deal. She was able to get good pain relief, and was treated gently and with care and respect. I believe in the hospice system.

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Anon

I have so many stories. The one that comes to mind is a gentleman who had no children of his own. He had two nephews who were not unmarried and owned a construction company. When the gentleman started hospice care, the nephews wanted to learn everything to keep him comfortable. They became his caregivers. The gentleman told me he knew he could always count on those boys.It was a great feeling to work with this family.

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Anon

For 20 long years, my Mom lived in pain with multiple sclerosis. The disease took her eyesight, it took her ability to walk, it took her ability to feed & clothe herself...she was completely unable to care for herself. For a number of years, I was one of her caregivers. After I got married and had a family of my own, my father still continued to care for her, as did various nurses. When I would visit I would see the pain on her face when she was moved all around. It killed me inside to see her suffering as she did. I took every moment in. She was my best friend and I knew someday the disease would take her from me.

I always loved to do her nails for her. She had the prettiest hands. It is the one thing that I will never forget about her. Her hands were always soft and her nails grew so long. I told her one day that it made me jealous that her nails grew that long, and mine were always brittle and would break. I started buying her nail polish and would paint her nails for her. She would amuse me with her oooohhhsss and ahhhhsss, all the while I would be seeing her blink so fast just to see what color they were.

I was her only child, and I miss her deeply. She left my side nearly 4 years ago. A part of me passed with her. The day she passed, I was sitting in the room with my grandmother (her Mom), my husband, and my aunt (her sister-in-law). I remember watching her. She was so peaceful. The Hospice nurses had made her so incredibly peaceful for the first time in 20 years. I asked if she was in any pain, and they said no..she was resting very comfortably. I felt the burden of her pain lift from my heart for the first time in many, many years.

I was able to lay in bed next to her hours before she passed. I held her hand and whispered in her ear. I told her she had been the best Mom anyone could ever ask for. That she had taught me the meaning of love and compassion and what it meant to be a wife and a mother. I told her I loved her and that it would be ok to stop fighting, that I ould be ok. She always worried about me, more than she ever did herself. I stared at her hands for the longest time. I remember telling her she had pretty hands and I was still jealous of her long nails. She turned her head and looked at me, it was the last time I looked in my Mom's eyes. She passed away, quietly, 2 hours later. We were all in the room and she had gone so peacefully that we didn't even know she had left us. It was as if she had drifted into a deep sleep. I sat on the edge of her bed holding her hand talking to her for the longest time after she passed. Just her and I one last time. I made her a promise that I would do good in her honor.

Every year I do the Walk & Remember in her memory, to raise money for Hospice. Hospice gave so much to our family by relieving her pain. They checked on us after she passed. They assisted in making arrangements for her services. They offered grief support to us. Hospice changed not only our lives with my Mom's passing, but they touched the hearts of the floor nurses at the hospital where my Mom passed. Before I left the hospital that night, after my Mom passed, I had at least 3 nurses stop me in the hall. They all said the same thing. They saw the pain that she was in when she got there, and they were so moved by how Hospice took over and eased her pain and helped us, that they were quitting their jobs as hospital nurses and going to work for Hospice. It overwhelmed me. I cannot thank Hospice enough for what they did for my Mom. May the Lord Himself bless each and everyone, who is connected with Hospice...this truly is a wonderful organization.

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