I’m not here to tell you something you don’t know, that Hospice of Holland is an amazing organization with a heartfelt staff. Instead I want to share how deep their work really goes, what they do for those in need at a critical time in their lives and beyond that, what Hospice of Holland does for family and friends during this time.
On September 22nd, 2001, I had received one of those calls that never actually happen to you. It was my dad. My mom had suffered a seizure, was taken to the hospital, had a brain scan and a mass was found in her brain—Glioblastoma. Her battle with cancer lasted just a year. In that time, Hospice of Holland came to my parents’ home and cared for my mother as she became weaker and weaker.
I wasn’t familiar with the term palliative care then, but I have come to understand it all too well. I remember how gentle they were with her, how they talked to her even when she was no longer able to talk back. It was every last detail. That is the difference Hospice of Holland makes. Having in-home care also allowed my mom her privacy. She didn’t want visitors, and she didn’t want to be fussed over any more than necessary. She wanted to be remembered for who she was, not who she had become.
When my mom needed to move on from palliative care to true hospice care, the staff helped us come to terms with taking a different approach to her care. It’s heartbreaking to feel like you are giving up on someone’s life, but Hospice helped us realize it was very different from that—that instead we were just giving her the ability to go with dignity and in peace.
As if that experience alone isn’t enough to convince me of the benefits of hospice and the service and care they provided by Hospice of Holland, there is more.
Don’t worry—things get better first. I met a wonderful man, and he and I decided to make a family out of the two of us and his four amazing children. I couldn’t believe I could be this happy after watching my mom go through all she did, only to lose her in the end. While my faith never faltered, it was unnecessarily restored. I could not have been happier.
Then I got the call. The same one I received just six years prior. He was gone. Not just him, but Zachary and Emma too. Surely this can’t be real. How in the world am I going to get over this one?
I had been to other therapists before meeting with my counselor at Hospice of Holland. One just wanted to talk at me and tell me what I should feel, that I was “normal.” Another just made me feel uncomfortable and unsure of what to do or what to say. The most extreme example even wanted me to undergo sound therapy to desensitize me from the situation.
Then I met my counselor at Hospice of Holland. She listened…actually listened. She didn’t try to “fix” me, she didn’t tell me I was normal or not normal, and she didn’t make me try to “get over” it. She taught me in not even so many words…You don’t get over it. You get through, work through and move forward. Hospice Bereavement services gave me hope for a future I couldn’t even bear to imagine. I’m here today sharing success. I have moved forward and opened my heart to another wonderful man because of what my Hospice of Holland counselor taught me. I still use those lessons almost daily.
Finally, there’s Bern B. To his great grandchildren he was Grandpa the Great. His journey brings our whole family full circle around Hospice of Holland. He was always so active, working, volunteering, fishing. This time it started slow but still didn’t last very long. First he fell a couple of times, then he needed a walker, then a wheelchair, and finally he needed more than we could give him.
Again, Hospice of Holland came in weekly, then daily then around the clock… they were there. Just as patient as he was. They constantly asked how he was doing, what they could do for him and all of us. No one wanted for anything, everyone was welcome, and we were able to do it all in the comfort of his home. Nothing had to change—we were still able to have lunch at my grandma and grandpa’s every Saturday, and the whole family together for coffee every Sunday.
I asked my grandma if she agreed that again dignity and peace were given to my grandpa in his greatest time of need and vulnerability and if, by choosing Hospice of Holland, we did everything that we could for my grandpa. She agrees. If we could ask my mom and grandpa, they’d agree too.
Hospice of Holland gives so much. We can’t thank them enough. Thank you from my mom and grandpa. Thank you from our entire family.