These prayer requests went out to our church family shortly after my mom was placed on hospice July 22, 2013.
July 23, 2013
Laurie and Kent Bigham went to the oncologist yesterday. After discussions with the doctor, they decided that Laurie will discontinue her chemotherapy treatments. The doctor estimated that Laurie has 3 weeks to 2 months left. They will be calling in hospice, and try to control Laurie’s pain level. The Bighams know that Laurie is in God’s hands, and He is their strength and refuge. Please continue to pray that the Lord will comfort and sustain the entire family during this time.
July 24, 2013
Please continue to keep Laurie Bigham and her family in prayer. Pray that “the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard their hearts and minds in Christ Jesus”. Laurie’s prayer is that she will “finish the race in faith”. Pray that they will be able to keep her pain levels under control. And please pray for the family (Kent, Karlie, and Blake) as they care for her; pray that they will be strengthened physically, emotionally and spiritually
A friend asked me recently how I coped while my mom was on hospice.
I don’t know.
To be honest, I wasn’t coping, I was just trying to survive.
Hospice is a different experience for everyone. I turned twenty when my mom was on hospice. She endured seven years of cancer treatment before going on hospice. My father and I were her caregivers. My mother died at home. She was on hospice for 46 days before she passed. Everyone’s story is different, but here are a few things I wish I had known about hospice:
Death is a biological process.
Hollywood does not portray death properly. There is no dramatic build up and emotional farewell (not always). Like birth, death is a biological process that can take up to a matter of hours, days, or weeks. Death looks different for everyone. It can be scary but it is also a natural part of life (in a fallen world). Death comes to all. We shouldn’t ignore it like the rest of our culture.
Hearing is the last sense to go.
I never knew what to say or when to say it. My mother slept a lot on hospice as her body was fading. Sometimes I was too emotional to speak, but I could sing, and read her the psalms. I’m not sure if my words brought her comfort, but they say hearing is the last sense to go. So speak, even if you don’t think they are listening. They can hear you.
You’ll never feel like you truly got to say goodbye.
This one was hard for me to realize. I had multiple conversations with my mom leading up to hospice and while she was on hospice, but I never felt like we had shared our goodbyes. How do you say goodbye to someone who is living? How do you say goodbye once they are unresponsive? Even if you do get a goodbye like you see in the movies, it’s not enough. We aren’t meant to say goodbye, not forever. You learn to let go, but they will always be with you.
Pills and pain management is not treatment.
I helped my dad with a lot of my mom’s home hospice care. That meant managing her pain and scheduling her medication. My mom had remained pretty independent and in control throughout most her treatment, but now it was our turn to step in to help. I think I coped with the idea of hospice by focusing on my mom’s comfort and care, to the point of obsession. At one point I was making a fuss about the timing of some prescriptions and my dad had to snap me out of it and remind me that no matter the care I wouldn’t be able to stop my mother from dying.
You’ll never be prepared for the grief.
My mother had cancer for seven years. Since I was thirteen-years-old, I was aware my mother would die someday. But anticipatory death isn’t easier then sudden death. You can try to prepare yourself mentally, but grief isn’t something you can prepare for. It will still shock you. You’ll feel relieved your loved one is no longer in pain, but you’ll still want them back. You may feel the loss immediately, or it may hit weeks later. You just have to ride it out.
Hospice is not all sad.
Our family laughed on hospice. My mom made jokes. We were able to share happy moments together as a family of four. It’s okay to not be crying all the time. God will give you grace when you need it.
You will be emotionally vulnerable for a while.
Not much to say about this other than give yourself time. Death is different for everyone, but so is grief. Allow yourself to grieve. Don’t force yourself to move on or feel better. Your timetable doesn’t have to match anyone else’s. Don’t add guilt on top of your grief. Give yourself grace. We often want to be better before we are ready, especially in a culture that doesn’t know what to do with death or loss. But don’t fight the pain. Lean on Christ and take it one day at a time. He will walk you through your grief.
I am continually with You; You hold my right hand.
You guide me with Your counsel, and afterward You will receive me to glory.
Whom have I in heaven but You?
And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you.
My flesh and my heart may fail,
but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.
For me it is good to be near God;
I have made the Lord God my refuge, that I may tell of all Your works.
(Psalm 73: 23-26, 28)