I am dealing with one of the most gut-wrenching things I have ever had to do. My stepmom is dying of cancer, and we will be placing her in hospice tomorrow.
As you grow older, you know at some point you will deal with your parent’s aging and health issues, but I don’t believe you ever fully expect when tomorrow becomes today.
I believe deeply that how you respond in these times has a spiritual effect on the balance of your own life. So, when you are faced with these decisions, choose well and choose with compassion and choose with love, whether it is returned or not.
As I went to the hospice today to interview the staff and meet the folks that will be responsible for her care, I thought about the part when you tell your parent they cannot go home again. That thought stopped me and watered my eyes. To be told by a child that you can’t go home again has to be one of the most difficult things to happen in the aging process. Then, to look at her room and know that when she sees the room for the first time, she will see what I see and will know that she most likely will pass away right there in that room.
I am telling you, prepare yourself for that period in your parent’s life, but also for that period in your own life when it is you who decides what to do.
I have gotten a crash course this week on the gap in our medical system that is between the hospital and the end. This period is not covered under medical insurance. The insurance folks will tell you that if you own a home and have any money in the bank, this period is all self-paid, whether it is a nursing home care or 24-hour home care. It is all terribly expensive. My wife and I have a long-term care insurance policy that will keep my children from dealing with this gap in our system. If you don’t have one, you should call your insurance agent today.
There are things in life that you are never prepared for, and this one is a smack daddy. It doesn’t matter if your parents were good parents or bad parents or if you have a relationship or not, this will fall on you at some point.
Aside from all the plans and the expense, the real issue is much, much more personal. It is when your parent wants to go home back to their life, but they can’t take care of themselves. It is the emotional process of looking in their eyes and telling them what you think is best.
In the case of my stepmother, it is about having the remaining months of her life be as easy for her as possible. It is about giving my dad and her the gift of these last few months to spend together in a care situation that is taking care of her and allowing them this period to properly say goodbye. KT