Nursing student finds hope in caring for terminally ill

By Jamie Hykes*

“Hospice is a place where and life and death can both be a beautiful thing,” says Jan Miller, volunteer director of Community Hospice and a former hospice nurse.

Thanks to hospice care, death and dying is not as scary as it used to be. Hospice care is for people diagnosed with a terminal illness, who have six months or less to live. However, when some patients get on hospice they tend to live longer than expected due to the amazing care but are still able to remain on hospice and receive the care they need.

To meet a requirement in the honors program at Alderson Broaddus University, I was given the opportunity to spend a month, in August, volunteering with the wonderful staff and patients at Hospice of Tuscarawas County. Jan Miller, my volunteer director, opened my eyes to another side of nursing I never fully understood. Hospice care treats symptoms, not the disease, to help control pain and promote comfort for the patient. Being deemed with a terminal illness is a major, emotional stressor on a patient and family that can be hard to handle without any type of guidance. This is where hospice comes in with doctors, nurses, and other staff to offer every type of support and care that is needed. This organization offers care at home, an extended care facility, or at a Hospice center. Being able to go through this process with family and friends while receiving the proper care in a comfortable setting is what makes Hospice the best for supplying holistic care.

Getting to spend some one on one time with the patients is what made the eye opener occur. Everyone dies at some point in their life. This is human nature and a scary part of the life cycle but hearing patients’ stories and how they are coping with death and able to reach the stage in life to cope with death, while being okay with dying is the beauty of what Hospice can offer. Jan shared with me her ups and downs working as a Hospice nurse. She told stories of the miracles of patients accepting Jesus and foretelling visions of heaven and the hard times she’s faced growing so close to a patient, only to see them pass away.

There are many stories of miracles and unbelievable occurrences that happen with death. Whether these stories are true, it is something we all must experience ourselves to fully understand what death means. Thankfully hospice can be there to help patients find their spirituality and can come to peace with the end of life. Death is a hard and scary process but with the proper support and care, hospice makes dying a little more peaceful.

*This feature article fulfills a requirement of the AB honors program and is published as a courtesy of Battler Columns.

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