VERY GOOD ARTICLE. I have seen many families, friends and extended family friends, cousins, friends from childhood all kinds of dynamics and relationships when it applies to that of a terminal hospice patient.
Being sick or facing end of life is a subject many are not comfortable with. Our culture is often one that does not freely speak of death or dying as a natural occurring part of life. It's often awkward for those who wish with all their might to make it "better" for the one who is sick.
This article has inspired me to think about the advice I'd give to those of a love one who is looking at end of life.
When you say "Is there anything I could do" really rarely would a patient direct you to do something. Instead of saying that action would be better. An action could be as simple as bringing a favorite magazine, food or music or personal care items if needed. These are little things that most would not ask for.
Terminal patients often lack energy. One of the toughest things that face patients with large family / friends is the ability to be "awake" to visit. A 30 minute visit or even a 15 minute visit can be incredibly fatiguing to a terminal patient. Bringing little ones, mulitple people or a party like environment are extremely taxing on someone with any advancing terminal illness. Boosts of energy are often followed with long periods to regroup and essentially recover from social exertion.
This is a sensitive subject when it comes to the world of hospice. I have seen nothing short of a circus types of environment, kids playing, screaming, music on loud, tv on , conversations about the patient in front of the patient as if they don't hear and enormous amounts of people holding vigil... and a primary caregiver in the middle of it all with a migraine because she or he doesn't know what to do and doesn't want to hurt family friends, neighbors feelings, but wants a quiet comfortable environment.
Being an advocate is essential with a situation like this. But being an independent 3rd party not directly related to patient has it's benefits. I have often taken the party group aside and paint the picture of what's happening, stimulation, noise levels, etc. Having the heart to heart has allowed two goals for me. #1 A quiet peaceful environment for the patient who is passing. #2 diversion of displaced anger onto me the HOSPICE RN vs. the primary caregiver who doesn't know how to ask family friends neighbors to leave...
Often being the bad guy is not a great feeling, but in situations like this, I don't mind at all. Just my thoughts tonight.