The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases;
his mercies never come to an end;
they are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.
“The Lord is my portion,” says my soul,
“therefore I will hope in him.” Lamentations 3:22-24
I have learned a lot being a hospice nurse, so I decided to write a list of some of the things I have learned.
- I have learned that everybody should have a plan for what they are going to do when they can’t take care of themselves, because it can sneak up on you awfully quickly.
- I have learned that Medicare pays 100% for hospice, but it pays 0% for nursing homes.
- I have learned how selfless some people can be in caregiving for years and years with few breaks.
- I have learned that morphine really is a very good drug for relieving pain and shortness of breath.
- I have also learned that morphine causes constipation.
- I have witnessed first hand that having tube feeding going full swing on someone who is dying is a recipe for a bad death.
- I have learned that every human being has grace and dignity, even when they are at their most helpless, and we must always treat them as the unique person that they are.
- I have also learned that death is messy and smelly, and doesn’t always bring out the best in people.
- I have learned that when family members are angry at me, it’s not really me they’re angry at.
- I have learned that miraculous recoveries are quite rare, but that God is present even in, especially in, the suffering.
- I have learned that most people, whether they are religious or not religious, die pretty much the same way that they lived.
Every time I have been there when someone has died, I say the Lord’s Prayer, silently in my heart, as their soul departs this earth. “Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His saints.”
Hospice nursing has been wonderful for me, but I see new opportunities for myself on the horizon, whether it is volunteering again at the pregnancy center or starting a new mercy ministry at church, being able to bake artisan bread at home again, being able to sew, helping my son work through his Boy Scout Eagle project, writing, and who knows what. It’s exciting and also a little scary too. But “the Lord is my portion,” and one thing that I have most definitely learned in my 39 years of life is that God never stops bringing people into our lives that need our help. I can’t imagine that I’ll be bored.
Coming soon: The Mount of Temptation