In a recent edition of the the local Free-Lance Star, there was a short but inspirational article on hospice care. The essay was written by an employee of the local hospice organization but, also, and as she writes, she has depended on hospice twice – once for the care of her mother and once for the care of her husband. The author also references the bereavement services that hospice offers and which she has taken advantage of. The article is a nice reminder of the amazing and sacred work that a few do to care for those at end-of-life and hurting families.
One night, a nurse came into the room where I was sitting with a patient. It had been a quiet evening. The patient had not been with us for a few days – as it turned out, he only had another few hours. I had read him some Bible and some poetry and had simply sat by his bed. He was, thankfully, restful and peaceful. The kind nurse, upon entering, greeted me and asked if I needed anything, then looked at our friend and said, “We need to get you fixed up.” I wondered what she meant.
She reached into the drawer by the bed and pulled out a soft-bristled, baby hair brush. As she was talking with me, she leaned over our friend and gently brushed his hair down. She made him look so nice. She worked a minute or two, stepped back, looked, and decided it was combed pretty good.
“I like them to look and feel good, ” she said.
Yes, I thought. That’s what we do. Ever since, I make a habit of combing their hair. To make them look and feel good. At the end.