In the past four years I have learned and gained so much from those we have served through Hospice Care of South Carolina. One particular individual that stands out to me is not the hospice patient, but his caregiver. A faithful wife, devoted mother, and, when we first met her, a terrified caregiver. Eleanor had so many fears that were only made stronger by the fact that she couldn’t read or write. She had been married for over 40 years to a man who suffered from COPD for the last 15 of those years. Her husband, Billy, had been the bread-winner, the bill payer, the grocery buyer, and, basically, her everything. Eleanor had never driven, only been out of the house with her husband on short shopping trips and was scared of strangers coming into her home. An emergency situation placed her in a moment when she, herself, was forced to spend time in the hospital and she knew her husband, who was nearing the end, could not be left alone in her absence. What was she to do? That’s where we were blessed to serve this couple and give her peace of mind and open up strength in her she never knew she had.
We were able to serve Billy while Eleanor was in the hospital and give her the peace of mind she needed to get better and return home. She was so pleased with the help and generosity of time that the staff provided to the love of her life that she asked if we could remain until the end. Of course, we agreed and a wonderful friendship of support and love formed. Our nurses, hospice aides, and social worker were able to help Eleanor reach within herself to not be afraid of the challenges ahead of her. She was able to help her husband with his symptom management and hold his hand through the end. She was afraid of giving him medicine because she couldn’t read. Billy always cared for his own needs related to his illness. She was so afraid that she could not live alone in the home they built together. She was so afraid and unsure of what lay ahead only months before her world changed with the loss of her husband. On the day of the funeral, she told me that, “it’s all gonna to be alright. She knew she had the support she needed to move on without fear and she owed that to staff of Hospice Care of South Carolina. Little did she know that she was the one inspiring us with her dedication to her husband, her strength to fight through the fears, and her willingness to shed her own anxiety to do what was best for her husband and stand by him in his final hours. Now when there are things that strike fear in my heart I reflect on Eleanor’s story and remember, “it’s all gonna be alright.”Tweet