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Sunday, June 17, 2012

The New Normal

Life does get back to normal after the death of someone close to us but it's a new normal and it's different from the old normal. My mother, Marie Vetrano, died on Sunday, June 3, 2012 at 5:55 pm. and each day since then, things are slowly settling into my new normal.

I always prayed that she would have a peaceful death and she did. As she grew weaker and weaker in the two previous months we used the services of hospice and I highly recommend them if you or a family member are approaching the end of life due to a terminal illness.

My mother lived alone for 19 years after my father died. She didn't like living alone, she missed my Dad but she did really love her independence. With the "hand she was dealt", she lived her life as she wanted and she got everything she wanted as she grew older and weaker from the chemo and cancer.

Older people, especially those living alone, have many fears: the loneliness of living alone, outliving their money, going to a nursing home, being a burden on their children, dying alone and dying a painful death. Mom, my siblings and I often discussed these things. I asked her to come live with us, she said she didn't want to be a burden. Even when I assured her I would let her know if things weren't working out, her desire to not inconvenience me outweighed her fear of being alone.  I wish she had come to stay with me for even a few days or weeks but I am happy she did what she wanted. She never had to go to a nursing home, she had a peaceful, mostly pain-free death "surrounded by her loving family"... all 25 of us!

A Word or Two About Hospice

The first hospice we signed up with was recommended to us by Mom's cancer doctor. We ended up firing that hospice and signed up with another one. The first hospice had some of the most awful service I have ever seen. I believe their actions, or in-actions I should say,  bordered on neglect. The second hospice assessed the situation and immediately took action to provide Mom and us with more comfort and assurance. They gave mom the peaceful, pain-free death she wanted and they took burdens off our shoulders so we could have a good experience with her in her final days.

What was the difference in the two hospices? The first hospice was for-profit and the second one was not-for-profit. Plain and simple, it came down to money. Medicare, Medicaid and private insurance each pay the same amount for a particular service. If the hospice is for-profit the only thing they can do is cut the service. Which would you rather trust for the care of your family member? Do a Google search for "non-profit hospice" and you'll see countless articles on for-profit vs. non-profit hospices.

For me personally, I wouldn't put my dog in the care of a for-profit hospice!

In Houston, the non-profit hospice that provided us with the wonderful experience was Houston Hospice. Houston Hospice is now my first choice for charitable giving.

Carol Thelen