I remember so vividly the moment the doctor told my family there was nothing else they could do to treat my father’s illness. There were so many thoughts and emotions going through my mind; primarily that there was no way that my dad could die. He was only 66 years old much too young to die. I needed him, my children needed him, and he had to see them grow up. I could not process everything that was being said or even comprehend the notion that my dad was going to die.
Through my tears I asked the doctor “How long does dad have?”
“It could be weeks or even months, I just don’t know,” the doctor said, “You need to focus on making it about the quality of the time you have with your dad, not the quantity of time.”
That is a hard concept to grasp when you are talking about someone you love. The doctor suggested we might want to talk to someone with Hospice. Deep down I felt like accepting care from Hospice meant that I was giving up and that his death was imminent. I never thought that what it really meant was making the most of the time we still had together as a family.
We agreed to meet with someone from Hospice to learn more about the services offered and so began our journey with Covenant Hospice.
Covenant Hospice had been serving the Tallahassee and surrounding counties since 1983 and is widely recognized as one of the largest and most comprehensive hospices in the nation, providing quality time for over 30 years for patients with life-limiting illnesses, their families and loved ones.
Hearing those words, “there is nothing else we can do”, set off a roller coaster emotions for everyone in my family. From my dad to my six children all the way to my 90 year old grandmother, there was a wide range of feeling, emotions and questions that each one of us had. Covenant Hospice provided us with Social Workers, Chaplains and Volunteers that were able to provide the wide range of comfort and care that we all needed. I have a very big family and from the moment we called Covenant Hospice it was as if our large family grew even more to make room for our Covenant Family. The care they gave and shared with all of us extended well beyond just my dad. Covenant Hospice gives families, such as mine, the gift of quality time by providing care to help loved ones live each day to the fullest.
One of the primary objectives of Covenant Hospice is to give patients the opportunity to receive care in their own home or a homelike setting while maintaining a strong emphasis on quality of life. Hearing that meant so much to me since getting home was one of my dad’s primary objectives as well. I immediately knew that choosing Covenant Hospice was the right choice for our family. We were going to get my dad home and be together.
As a daughter I could not bear to see my dad suffer in any way. The fear of my dad being in pain and suffering in anyway was heart wrenching to me and something I would lay awake at night worrying about. The burden and fear of him suffering in any way was taken off of our shoulders by Dr. Jean Murphy, Covenant Hospice physician, and the wonderful Covenant Hospice nursing staff. Dr. Murphy would come to the house to check on my dad, which took away much of his anxiety about being put back in the hospital. Her compassion and care for him and towards all of us endeared her quickly to our hearts.
In addition to Dr. Murphy, the entire Covenant team, consisting of nurses, social workers, chaplains, bereavement specialists and a volunteers were available anytime day or night to us give support and assistance, to help in any way enhance the quality time that dad and our family had together.
Knowing that dad was being cared for and kept comfortable allowed my family to really focus on the time we spent with dad. We will forever hold precious the memories of the nightly rounds of “Jeopardy” and the laughter that filled the room as we attempted to shout out the correct answer first. There were priceless visits from my dad’s high school and college friends where we all got to sit around and here them reminiscing about the good old days. I learned even more stories about my dad that I will treasure forever and pass on to my children and their children someday. Covenant Hospice gave us those moments that we shared together as a family and that will always be so precious. They gave us a quality of life I didn’t expect after hearing the words, “there is nothing else we can do.”
On the morning that my dad died, my dad’s nurse Connie was there with us as he peacefully took his last breath. She had stayed with him all through the night, never leaving his side, so that my mom could get some rest. Dr. Murphy came and spent time with us as we processed what had just happened and shared stories and tears about dad.
At one point, I remember looking around the room and thinking about something my dad once told me:
“Family is not just the people you were born to and you are related too,” he said. “Family is also the people you meet along your journey in life who love you and are always there for you.”
He was so right. At that moment I looked around the room and realized that I was surrounded by family not just the family I was born into, but our Covenant Hospice family who we had all grown to love so much. It was a very special moment.
I miss my dad every single day but I take great comfort in the fact that he died free from pain and with all of us together. We were given a gift the day that we call Covenant Hospice. We were given the gift of quality time with this wonderful man and that is a gift I will forever be grateful to them for giving to us.
To learn more about Covenant Hospice and the services and programs offered go to www.covenanthospice.org or call (850)575-4998
Additional programs offered by Covenant Hospice:
· We Honor Veterans – Covenant Hospice provides outreach and education to area veterans and health care professionals.
· Covenant Alzheimer’s Services, an affiliate of Covenant Care, provides respite for caregivers through community education, support and resources for families dealing with Alzheimer’s disease and other form of dementia.
· Partners In Care- Together for Kids (PIC-TFK)-The PIC-TFK program which provides specialize support services to children ages 0 to 21 living with potentially life-limiting illnesses. Services can include in-home nursing and personal care, counseling, supportive therapies and volunteer services and are available to all family members and caregivers including grandparents.
· Bereavement Services- The feelings of loss following the death of a loved one can be overwhelming. Grief is a normal, natural response that is individual and personal. Through support groups, educational workshops and remembrance celebrations, Covenant Hospice provides comfort and assistance to families and loved ones dealing with grief for at least one year following the patient’s death.