When someone you love is dying, how do you ease their pain and yours? I needed help in finding these answers because someone I love is dying. We’ll all get answers in highlights of my radio conversation for A Lasting Love with Joanne Harvey, hospice social worker and author of the book, Dying To Live: Embracing The Journey
HF: Joanne, you’ve written, “This year thousands of people will unnecessarily suffer while dying. Many will die in hospitals and some will die in terrible pain unprepared for death. Unfortunately, they will not receive the support available to them through a hospice program.” How does hospice care help people die without fear or pain?
JH: The hospice team takes care of physical and emotional symptoms to give you a better quality of life during the dying process.
Hospice care often is given in your own home. People qualify when they receive a doctor’s prognosis of having less than six months to live. People who have an inkling that they will die soon, also can call hospice directly. And we’ll consult a doctor to prescribe hospice care, which is covered by insurance.
People without insurance also can receive hospice care. It’s best to call hospice in early in the dying process to get the support you need.
HF: When you discover that someone you love is dying, you can feel grief over losing them even while they’re still here. Can hospice help?
JH: Hospice social workers help you deal with anticipatory grief and bring up the subject of death without doing harm.
HF: Is it a good idea to ask someone if they’re afraid of dying? If they are, how do you help them?
JH: I don’t ask if they’re afraid. I ask how they’re feeling about their journey, because it’s almost time to go. From there, they can come up with their own words. Don’t give them words.
They might say they are a little anxious. Or they don’t know what it will be like to cross over. So we start talking about it and develop a picture of something they can focus on in their journey.
One man I took care of had decided he would become a dragon fly as he crossed. He loved dragon flies and knew their whole life cycle. He crossed over with a smile on his face.
HF: So we can become whatever we want, because what we see will be in life and in death?
JH: Yes. People go wherever they want to be when they cross over, depending on their beliefs. By planning the ending of our life with the same amount of passion and care we spend living it really reduces all that anxiety and fear. And our families are prepared too.
HF: As a hospice social worker, how do you emotionally handle your daily role of helping people leave this life and the people they love?
JH: Hospice workers are allowed to believe in any religion, and I truly believe they are crossing over into a better place. It is their journey, not mine. My job is to hold their hand and help them embrace life as they are leaving it, and embrace that they are going to whatever they believe in.
HF: What you see will be, in life and in death.
JH: Yes. I also counsel families for 13 months after someone passes, so I see them recover from grief. And I get to meet amazing people who share their wisdom with me as they take the journey that we all will take someday.
HF: Joanne, I thank you for helping us embrace this journey without fear or pain.
And you can find Joanne Harvey at www.DyingToLiveStories.com She invites you to call her with questions at 530.459.5464 because a short phone call may take pressure and weight off your shoulders as you face the final journey we all must make someday.
Because life is precious, do not wait to love deeply, truly and passionately. I help you do this in all of my books, blog, magazine app and love casts and programs.