life and death.

There are things that we experience in our lives that we don’t wish on other people because it’s just hard. And it’s sad and it’s a lot of emotions. One of those things I am talking about is hospice.

We lost a family member this week after a very fast dance with terminal cancer. My father in law. The diagnosis took everyone by surprise. And the thing about hospice is you don’t know is if it is going to be fast or is it going to be slow and you have to prepare for both.

The hospice was done in our home. And to be honest, I am still processing how it felt. It’s hard. Your house takes on an unnatural stillness you’re trying to keep everything calm and peaceful for the person on hospice.

People have said to me things like I’m so brave for doing this and what was the other thing? Oh, that I was doing God’s work for having someone here on hospice. I don’t think I deserve those accolades. Hospice was really emotionally difficult for me, right or wrong. Also right or wrong I was terrified through most of it. It’s super stressful.

You are faced with a person who was once completely full of life, fading away, inch by inch hour by hour minute by minute. Watching it is almost indescribable at times. It’s part of the natural cycle of life, but death doesn’t actually come softly. Death let’s itself be known and steals someone from you even if they have lived a long and good life and you are going to miss them.

I am really not trying to be a Debbie Downer, but hospice is complicated, especially emotionally. And you hate seeing anyone in pain. And that’s the hospice patient and the other family members around you. This is why before I go any further in this post, I want to thank the hospice people we had. They were nothing short of amazing. And that’s every nurse, the social worker, and the people delivering and picking up the hospice equipment. The nurses were Amy and Christie and Ashley. The triage nurses on the phone included. Brandy, Kathy, Charlene, and Christa. Betsy was the social worker. And Beth who set it all up.

Who did we use? AseraCare in Eagleview in Exton. We ended up choosing them just by chance. We had called a couple of different people, including Penn Hospice. Everyone we spoke with was lovely, but it was just the timing which had us land with AseraCare in the end.

Hospice workers and hospice nurses I really believe do God’s work on earth. I am in awe of what they do, and have nothing but mad respect and admiration. These women who helped us, helped make it make sense. This was really hard, and I had so many doubts that I could even do this in my own house, because I was just scared. At first, it’s just like having a long-term houseguest, but then the hospital bed gets delivered and it gets very real, very fast.

And then it’s over. It’s a whirlwind, and when it ends the world gets very still, and then peaceful again. And you start to sleep again. Because having someone on hospice in your house is like almost having a new baby, you don’t really sleep because your ears are always open for sounds. It gives a whole new meaning to sleeping with one eye open. Now we also deal with loss. Loss and the complexity of emotions when you lose someone.

In the middle of all this all going on, you still have regular life all around you. For me as a blogger, people continued to message me all hours and leave comments, continued to ask if I could help on things and I accommodated people as best I could. But when you are trying to do regular every day life combined with something somewhat extraordinary and unusual, like hospice, you sit back and you take stock. Among other things , you are just tired.

I find I am increasingly intolerant with the way people act on social media. Everything is an argument, everything is a challenge, and it flows over into the real world. No one can have a conversation anymore. I realize I’ve talked about this before but it really hit home during this time.

After pondering during this time in my family’s life , I have decided I’m doing a little simplifying. Instead of being worried about the feelings of others, even though I know quite realistically I am not responsible for the feelings of others, I’ve decided it’s time to put myself first. I am just not going to be the whipping girl for those who don’t like my opinion any longer. Whether it’s overt or passive aggressive, I just am done. It’s human nature that you don’t want to disappoint people, but I’ve decided I can’t take that on as a mantle. It’s not my responsibility.

People can either be polite, even if they don’t agree with me, or they can simply not be in my space. This is why there are a few of you this week have found yourself on the outside. I have just decided life is simply too short. No one is ever forcing anyone to read Chester County Ramblings or be in a Facebook group I run. I have never expected everyone to agree with everything I write because that’s not humanly possible we’re all individuals. But I’m done with the behavior which I don’t feel is acceptable. You might think it’s fine. It might be fine someplace else, but perhaps not so fine with me. And how I feel actually matters.

So that’s it for me. Our world is a study in life and death. As humans, we don’t have time for BS.


6 thoughts on “life and death.

  1. I’m so sorry for your loss. My dad was on hospice after a cancer diagnosis that also left us stunned. I lost my mom very suddenly and very young, there was no goodbye. My dad was gone in 8 months and I knew the diagnosis was fatal so I spent time and talked. I have no regrets with either one. My mother in law however, whew… Alzheimer’s also passed with hospice but what made her death so hard was the absolute lack of support and the family fighting me every step without ever lending a hand. All of them were life changing and like you, I realized that I needed to trim the fat in my life. You are in my thoughts and prayers ❤️

  2. I am sad to hear this news. Hospice is an emotional roller coaster. Condolences, love and hugs to you and the family. You have been through a storm and come out exhausted and sad but wiser. You are NOT responsible for how people feel. And people lose all sense of decency sometimes on social media.

    I am fairly new to your site and I really enjoy learning about what goes on in Chester County. You have inspired me to learn more about my new hometown. Thank you.

  3. I am sorry for your family’s loss. Until the experience happens to you, one cannot imagine the heartache. You try to do so much good in the world and then sometimes it back fires. In the “Four Agreements”, rule # 1 is to “Do not take anything personally”. Meaning, if there is a negative thought coming your way, it is usually that person’s — crap, not yours. That’s why they thrust it on others. Hang in there and know there are many of us out here sending you love and hugs. Take time to just BE.

  4. I’m so sorry that you went through this with your father-in-law. I agree with you…it’s an incredibly emotional experience (hospice.) I went through this with my Dad. 5 years later, I’m still processing. I was the person (his only child) to administer his morphine. I died a little each time.

  5. I am so sorry for your family’s loss. My father also passed very quickly due to cancer, 11 days. The emotional roller coaster is, literally, mind boggling. When your go-to coping mechanism is to make a plan and organize the crap out of it, it’s so disorienting not knowing what the next day or even hour will bring. Hospice workers are an island of calm and a touchstone to the real world that somehow, ridiculously, is still turning despite a family’s turmoil. Truly unsung heroes. God bless your father in law and your family.

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