Holistic Health Tips
                    Compassionate Consulting          October 23, 2013                   
 How to Reach Me
Jean Oswald RN CA
End-of Life
consultations for you
and your loved ones
In-person or
over the phone
You can also send an email to:
jean@ compassionate
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Holistic approaches to a client in need always consider the care and dignity of body, mind and spirit. One situation where this is most important is in caring for your loved ones at the end of life. There are many questions to be answered in loving someone through this transition. This week I want to share some thoughts about end-of-life and hospice. 

In my 19 years as a nurse (four years in hospice) I've learned how to navigate the "system" of health care, seen where the stumbling blocks are, and know how to efficiently get needs met. I know who to call and how to use the language of advocacy for patients.


I've witnessed a broad variety of families, personalities, crisis situations and individual patient needs at the end of life. As a result I feel competent to offer you support as you consider questions and concerns for your loved one. 

End-of-Life Care                   

When was the last time you were personally involved in the birth of a new baby? Do you remember how special the experience was? Bringing a new life into the world (or witnessing the event) offers an opportunity to connect with the miracle called Life. Energetically I felt a shift the night my first grandchild was born. There was a change in the air; something big was happening. And I treasured the feeling even though she was across the world in Italy!

In a similar way, it is a PRECIOUS time in one's life helping a loved one cross over to the other side. It's not one you can prepare for and I realize this isn't everyone's experience. But I want you to know your involvement CAN be a cherished memory as the months and years pass for you. Being fully awake and present in the details is key.


First you might have a lot of questions as you think about how this applies to your elderly parent, spouse or partner.

  • how do you discuss end of life issues with someone whose medical treatment doesn't seem to be providing quality of life but has great emotional cost?
  • what can you do if he/she doesn't want to talk about what is really happening?
  • how do you really know if he/she is 'actively' dying?
  • how do you come to a decision with him/her about how (and where) to receive end-of-life care?
  • what are the steps to take if he/she agrees to hospice support and care? What if he/she says "no?"
  • when do you pick up the phone to get more help?
  • who do you call?
  • do you know what to expect when someone is dying?

I can help you answer these questions and many more as well. Terminal illness can be fraught with fear and anxieties for the dying patient and her family. Have you found yourself in the position of asking these questions? Where do you turn? How do you know what to do first?


Many days when I am working at our local comfort care home the phone will ring and a distressed daughter is calling to see if she can bring her mom over to be cared for in her final days. Offering my understanding and compassion I then explain that the first step is to contact one of our local hospice agencies because we work with their staff.


Hospice support does not cost anything out-of-pocket (good to know, right?) and there is a tremendous amount of help available once your loved one is in their system. Medications, nurse visits, help with personal care, social workers and grief support are all part of it.


It may surprise you to learn there is a big difference between being a caregiver and being a daughter/son/spouse for your loved one at the end of their life. It was a privilege for me to do both for my mother but Hospice often allows you to be who you are in relationship to your loved one rather than a caregiver.


In the span of 6 hours one Tuesday this summer I arrived home at our local airport and made all the arrangements (i.e. spoke to all the necessary people) to have my mom opened to hospice care, got her discharged from a local nursing home and moved in to take care of her. My training and experience taught me the navigation skills for this. The next four days were truly precious as my dad, my siblings and I were present to her. My friend Debbie Sigrist (an amazing Hospice Nurse) came and offered a handkerchief to catch the "final tear" which I had forgotten about. We all cared for mom and were privileged to witness her crossing. The entire experience was a personal and tremendous gift I will never forget.


What I know for sure is that dying is a sacred time and a unique journey for each family. I would be honored to help you with your concerns. Whether it's answering questions, guiding you in each step or advocating for your loved one I know how to help. Please call if I can help so we can chat.


Sending you much love,