Holiday gatherings can be beautiful, but they can also spark some of the most challenging conversations. Many of us visit loved ones we haven’t seen in quite a while due to a host of circumstances that may have kept us apart. Sometimes, the reunion can be a little startling, especially with our older loved ones.
As families come together, they may see changes they hadn’t realized from afar: memory or weight loss, less mobility, a general decline. Often, but not often enough, this may initiate a conversation about your loved ones’ journey at this stage in life. Ideally, any discussion about life should include a discussion about death, but our society is conditioned to shy away and hide from those conversations, even though they can bring peace and a specialized level of care.
For forty years, Central Wyoming Hospice and Transitions has cared for loved ones and their families facing those final journeys. Throughout those decades, one of the biggest obstacles for people to access the end-of-life care they deserve is the fear of talking about death.
“If we as a society pretend it’s not going to happen, we can’t do it well. If we ignore what we know to be inevitable for everyone, then we can’t get good at it,” says RN Hannah Sharp, a Certified Hospice and Palliative Care Nurse at Central Wyoming Hospice. Many people don’t realize that hospice care is available to anyone who is expected to live six months or less. One of the biggest obstacles for people to access that care is, of course, the fear of death.
“It keeps people from getting the support of Hospice that can help walk you through this natural process with your loved ones,” she says. “Hospice has been historically, and especially in this community, something that gets accessed at the last hours to days of life. That’s not real Hospice. That’s not getting everything you can out of what we have to offer,” Hannah explains.
“The most common misconception about Hospice might be that it’s only about death. And really, it’s about turning toward life and living the best life that you can in the time you have left, so taking your focus away from running around trying to treat an illness, you’re turning towards living with it.”
If you have questions and would like to learn more about hospice care, please contact our Care Coordination Team at Central Wyoming Hospice and Transitions at (307) 577-4832 or on the web at www.cwhp.org.