Articles about hospice and end of life care

This section is a collection of books,videos, articles and essays about hospice, end of life care and related issues. We are happy to share various writings that appear in the media. We honor the importance of talking about end of life and encouraging all to reduce the fear and stigma the words hospice and death offer.  

Some Suggested Reading:

The Four Things That Matter Most by Ira Byrock M.D.

The Art of Losing: Poems of Grief and Healing By Kevin Young

Lessons from the Dying by Rodney Smith

Final Gifts by Maggie Callanan and Patricia Kelly

At Home with the Dying: A Zen Hospice Approach by Merrill Collett

The Little Book of Mindfulness by Dr. Patricia Collard

Beacause You’ve Never Died Before by Kathleen Pusnak, PH.D.

Tuesdays with Morrie by Mitch Albom

Stay Close and Do Nothing: A Spiritual and Practical Guide to Caring for the Dying at Home by Merrell Collett

Here For Now by Elana Rosenbaum

Kathy Hull: Stories from a home for terminally ill children

Filmed October 2016 at TEDWomen 2016

To honor and celebrate young lives cut short, Kathy Hull founded the first freestanding pediatric palliative care facility in the United States, the George Mark Children’s House. Its mission: to give terminally ill children and their families a peaceful place to say goodbye. She shares stories brimming with wisdom, joy, imagination and heartbreaking loss. Click here to watch.

Virtual Footsteps Lead to a Mother’s Love

May 12, 2016 by Kate Brannen

Not long after my mother died in 2014, less than eight months after being diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, my dad and I performed a ritual familiar to anyone who has lost someone they love: we went through her closet to decide what to hold on to. We kept her favorite pieces, like the cozy purple cardigan in which her scent still lingered, a few items of jewelry and her scarves. To continue reading please click here.

A Tender Hand in the Presence of Death

The daily work of a hospice nurse, who treats the physical, psychological, and spiritual needs of people at the most vulnerable point of their lives.

July 11 & 18, 2016 By Larissa MacFarquhar

Heather Meyerend is a hospice nurse who works in several neighborhoods in South Brooklyn—Sheepshead Bay, Mill Basin, Marine Park, Bensonhurst, Bay Ridge. She usually has between sixteen and twenty patients, and visits each at home once a week, sometimes more. Some patients die within days of her meeting them, but others she gets to know well, over many months. She sees her work as preparing a patient for the voyage he is about to take, and accompanying him partway down the road. She, like most hospice workers, feels that it is a privilege to spend time with the dying, to be allowed into a person’s life and a family’s life when they are at their rawest and most vulnerable, and when they most need help. Some hospice workers believe that working with the dying is the closest you can get on earth to the presence of God.  To continue reading please click here.

Volunteers assure that patients don’t die alone

January 11, 2016 by Liz Kowalczyk

Frances Iacobucci was exhausted and worried. Her husband of 64 years lay semi-conscious in a hospital bed. Knowing he may not have long, she tossed and turned in a bedside chair until sunrise, not wanting to leave him. But now her children were insisting she go home and sleep.
There to take her place by Michael’s side was Sharon Cusack, a 57-year-old teacher’s assistant from two towns over — and a complete stranger. Cusack, who volunteers for a program designed to ensure that patients do not die alone, was one of two volunteers who sat with the 89-year-old retired television repairman during hours his family could not. To continue reading please click here.

Health Care Costs and Choices in the Last Years of Life

by Ian Morrison

Many U.S. patients endure pointless treatments because their doctors don’t know how to talk about death. But that’s changing as hospice and palliative care are gaining ground.

As a Scottish-Canadian-Californian, I have always said that I have a unique perspective on health care and all things to do with health care, including death and dying: The Scots see death as imminent. Canadians see death as inevitable. And Californians see death as optional.

I wrote that joke more than 20 years ago and continue to use it because it tells a fundamental truth: that Americans and the American health care system are uncomfortable with the inevitability of mortality. To continue reading please click here.

Love, Death and Spaghetti

by Theresa Brown, RN

“Theresa, you gonna sit, you gonna eat.” My orientation for hospice nursing didn’t cover this — an Italian grandmother who was clearly not going to talk to me about her dying husband unless I sat at the dinner table with her family and ate. Well, when in Rome, I decided, and obediently pulled up a chair.

The emotional connection between food, love and survival runs deep, and it comes up again and again at the end of people’s lives. “I can’t just let her starve,” family members will say about a loved one near death with little ability to talk, much less eat, and certainly no desire for food. To continue reading please click here.

The Gentler Symptoms of Dying

The patient’s hair was styled with curls so stiff, they held her head a few inches up from her hospital pillow. She had painted her lips a shade of bright pink that exuded the confidence of age.

Just after her colon burst, she was still awake. She looked around, at me, at the monitors. She asked for pain medication. “Am I dying?” she asked.

“We think so,” I said, touching her manicured fingernails. “I am here with you.”

To continue reading please click here.