Since starting the Widow’s Walk column, I have written mostly about things that dealt with after losing a loved one. I feel like I should step back a bit and tell you about some things that you may unfortunately find yourself having to deal with if your loved one becomes ill.
I wasn’t prepared (how can anyone ever be) for anything that was thrown at my family, nor was I very knowledgeable about anything to do with losing a loved one. When the doctor said it was time to call in Hospice care, I was devastated. My husband wanted to be at home and I figured I could handle it all, with the help of family.
I knew nothing about Hospice or the nurses that I soon began to rely on for my husband’s needs. They truly are much like Angels in disguise. The nurse that was “in charge” of my husband’s case became my friend, my comfort and my support. He wanted to remain at home if at all possible, and our Hospice nurse helped us to achieve that.
The Hospice nurse did regularly scheduled visits, plus I knew she was just a phone call away. Most Hospice nurses will give you their cell phone number so you don’t have to go through the office routine of calling them. I knew if I was concerned about something, I could call her at any time and she would offer advice or reassure me. She would even come to my house if she thought I was extremely concerned, no matter what time it was.
She arranged for someone to come every few days to tend to his grooming care. At first, I was hesitant and insisted that I could, and in fact wanted to, do that myself. She gently told me that while that was fine, it would help ease my stress at allowing someone else to come in and help. The trained attendant would bathe, shampoo and shave him. I got to come back in the room and see him all freshly shaved, his favorite after shave scent lingering in the air.
The whole point of this post is that while you may feel guilty about not doing it all yourself, you shouldn’t. Hospice care not only helps your loved one get the best care possible, it will help you to know that you have this wonderful support system behind you. The Hospice nurses are not only medically trained to deal with such situations, they are also the most compassionate and caring people I have ever met.
When and if it ever comes time for your loved one to be moved to Hospice care in a hospital, the Hospice nurse will know. He or she will handle those arrangements for you as well. It is a great stress reliever not to have to deal with those things and to just be there with your loved one. I know that we all feel like we want to do it all, but truthfully, you just can’t. You will become exhausted both physically and mentally.
I hope that none of you ever have to hear the words, “You need Hospice care’s help” but should your situation ever come to that, accept the help without any guilt or remorse that you aren’t able to do it all yourself. Hospice care will be a great relief and they will take excellent care of your loved one and you.
I apologize for bringing up such a sensitive subject, but I believe it warrants discussion and once you read the entire post you will understand why I think it is important to talk about.
My husband often talked about his wish to be cremated when something happened to him. He also joked that we should “put him in a pine box and carry it in the back of his pickup truck to the nearby creek.” Another remark concerned his motorcycle. He used to say he wanted us to hire a backhoe to dig a big enough hole to drop him in with his motorcycle.
People often make remarks about how they want to leave this world, so how do you know what they really want? After my husband was diagnosed with cancer, my son bravely broached the subject and asked him if he was serious about cremation. He was and we made sure to fulfill his wishes.
The thing is, you don’t think about the aftermath. When you have a loved one who is buried in a cemetery, you can go there to visit and to leave flowers. It’s a place you can go to feel closer to them. If your loved one is cremated and you have an urn full of ashes, you may not know just what to do to honor them on holidays like Memorial Day, Christmas or birthdays.
When the first Memorial Day approached, my son asked if maybe we could put a wreath or something in our back yard, under his dad’s favorite tree. It dawned on me, that we needed a place to visit and remember him. We created a rock memorial garden that sits right under the window of my office, so that I can look out on it.
I bought a beautiful water fountain to sit in the middle of it and I place a new heart shaped wreath in it every spring. Last year on Father’s Day, my granddaughter came and put a little flower arrangement in the Memorial Garden that said “Grandpa.”
Your memorial spot doesn’t have to be huge, or elaborate. Just be sure to make it quiet and peaceful, with enough room for you to place a chair beside it. Trust me, I have spent many hours lovingly tending that rock memorial garden and talking with my husband. It does help…
I would never go against a person’s wishes as to how they leave this earth, but I did want to point out some of the things you may be feeling if in fact you have had a loved one cremated, or if their wish is for you to do so. I never thought of these things until after words when I had to deal with them. I hope the Memorial Garden idea helps you as much as it did me.
My name is Donna and I am just and Everyday Woman trying to figure out this aging thing, I also get to figure out how to do the Widow's Walk through life. I lost my husband to cancer nearly four years ago, after being with him since I was 15-years old. He was always a big fan of my writing ability and I thought, "What better way to honor him, than to keep on writing and maybe be able to help someone else who is going down this same path.