Sorry not the traditional naughty or nice one, this was the Hospice checklist. For all general purposes it’s vastness was almost equal to what one might imagine Santa’s list to be like. Much like Christmas, death is an all encompassing event. It requires facing the inevitable deeply painful loss of a loved one. Perhaps the most powerful of all life’s events for the very fact that we only get one chance to do this right.
Death is rarely a quick peaceful movie like scenario where the person who is dying simply closes their eyes, peacefully smiling while making their exit. There are those lucky few (in my humble opinion), who do get to escape the longer process of dying. Their families loved ones are faced with a different aspect of making the list and checking it twice. Although equally agonizing, these folks are spared a process that includes a front row seat to the dying persons mental and physical experience. A process that has a large amount of collateral damage.
I should point out at this juncture that the dying loved one is simultaneously internally making their own list and checking it twice. Hospice very eloquently describes this part of the dying process, as a sort of internal review that occurs when a person is making their journey from this world into the next. A most intriguing time to me, because you can actually see that they are still responding to us in this life, but they are also definitely participating in another world. A world that seemingly has nothing to do with us.
Our list began with saying out loud that we feel our loved one has reached a point where we believe he is unable to physically heal. It’s a brutal moment, because no one wants to give up the hope that there will be another miracle comeback. Something we had witnessed several times over the last three years. Our loved one is a total bad ass! He has fought fiercely to recover, overcoming obstacles that would have ended most others. We’ve had to come to the realization that hope still remains it has just transformed into another direction.
Next on our list was the decision to honor his desire to no longer be invaded by medical measures. Another brutal moment, because over the last three years ,he has had to waver on his own personal beliefs in order to survive his circumstances . We are at a point where he is worsening in spite of all our combined efforts to save him. We could curl up into the fetal position letting fate make our decisions for us. Instead we have decided as a family (that after showing us such incredible strength and courage on his part) that he deserves to have us honor him in the very same manner.
We must also add to this list careful consideration of the feelings of everyone else who is of equal importance to his life. An almost impossible feat when you consider all the people who fall into this category- out of state children, siblings,aunts, uncles,the list is long. We make every decision in constant fear of causing someone else pain. The making a list and checking it twice is at best a difficult task. Like all the most important decisions we make in life, we will regretfully make mistakes. I think the most we can do, is to never forget that every decision made has to come from the intention of being our loved ones voice. To honor his journey with the highest form of respect. Somebody wise once said “only kindness matters in the end”, maybe it’s just that simple.