“We had a discussion (about hospice care) on a Monday,” said Josh. “I said to her ‘listen there’s no shame and you’re not quitting. But it’s just not fair to you anymore.’ I left her with the decision because it was hers.”
Making the decision to sign onto hospice is rarely easy. Yet hospice isn’t about letting go, or walking away. Electing hospice care means choosing to focus on living as fully and comfortably as possible during the time one has left. It means redirecting focus from curative (and often aggressive) treatments to getting the best quality of life in the days, weeks, or months one has remaining.
“You could tell she was very firm in her decision because she was just sick of it all,” Josh recalled. “She told me she was ready. While it’s a very sad thing to hear, I sat and watched this for a year. It is a very hard thing to see day in and day out. How somebody healthy like that can just kind of deteriorate. It wasn’t fair for her but it was going to be her choice and I think in the end she just wanted to feel as comfortable as possible and that’s what we needed to do. I know in the end we made the right decision.”
Hospice of Holland cared for Heather for nearly a month. During that time before her passing, Josh was able to relinquish some of the burden of being a caregiver, and just focus on being there for Heather. Although, as Josh said, it was a “very conflicting set of feelings,” Hospice of Holland was what they both needed.
“Hospice was great. I had been effectively doing pretty much everything in terms of her care up to that point,” said Josh. “So once we flipped the switch to hospice, some of that responsibility was taken off of my shoulders. Hospice of Holland immediately set up a team of individuals who had differing responsibilities. From the social work aspect, to the nursing aspect, and the day-to-day care. All of those responsibilities that had been on me for all those months. That was taken completely off my plate. Which allowed me to refocus on my wife in those last weeks and days. They worked with me and bared that responsibility, and just allowed me to be her caretaker part time as opposed to full time, and just go back to being her husband.”
What Josh and Heather went through is unimaginable, and such an immense loss is heartbreaking. Nevertheless, the reality of their story is shared by so many. Hospice of Holland is here to step in when the unthinkable happens. We are incredibly grateful to Josh for sharing his family’s journey of love, courage, and loss.