I recently read a fascinating article in the New Yorker about something I knew nothing about: care givers in hospices. As part of life, I have witnessed the loss of 2 close family members; my own father and my father in law. Both died in the hospital so I have never had the occasion to go or learn about hospice and the amazing people that work in them.
Simply, hospice is where people go to die. Whether a patient is suffering from an incurable illness or has suffered a stroke or accident that will lead to death in the next few months, it is often hospice where they go. Dying, is often a difficult and drawn out process and can be one or more of the following: boring, painful, scary, easy, ugly or more. Unlike the role of a nurse or Dr. where the job is to restore to health, the hospice worker is there to smooth the road to death and that road is often very bumpy. There are unresolved issues and anger that won’t allow the dying to let go and die. There is the looming birthday that keeps one hanging on. There is fear. There are difficult family members and unresolved family fighting. There are patients who are made happy only by certain music. The list goes on but these amazing caregivers act as stewards to the next life by doling out support however they see fit: acting as therapist, or as great listener, birthday party organizer, bedpan cleaner and so on. They seem to have an innate ability to understand what is needed for each patient while never forgetting the mission: to usher them with kindness and respect into the next phase.
I am in awe of these dedicated and hardworking caregivers and am so grateful to the author, Larissa Macfarquhar, for writing this piece. These caregivers seem to be almost a step or 2 above the rest of us with their ability to see the present and the future so easily. There are no gifts that could truly honor their almost G-dlike work but I think we should start with some essentials to keep their nourishment up and to show the immense gratitude for their dedicated and courageous work. Here are some gift ideas from Challah Connection for your favorite care giver, whether they are caring for someone in hospice, at home or for your favorite childcare provider. We always feel happier when we acknowledge others and show them gratitude.
-Jane Moritz, Chief Maven Officer, Challah Connection