Published on April 14, 2022

Deciding on Hospice Care for Mom

eye chart and glasses

Mom was almost 85 years old when my sister, daughter and I noticed a significant decline in her physical and mental status. This photo is one of my favorites of Mom—beautiful and vibrant!

Debi Atkins' MomIt was important to Mom to stay in her home as long as possible. So, I asked my good friend Carrie Kimbrough, who has worked in home health and hospice for years, how to know when hospice at home is appropriate.

Based on the information she provided and the opinion of the professional team of health care workers who had cared for Mom for years, we determined that adding North Mississippi Medical Center Hospice services was the appropriate call.

Mom’s Team of Hospice Caregivers (Angels!)

Two nurses interviewed my sister and me to get an idea of what we were expecting regarding our Mom’s care. Leigh Ann and Stephanie asked several questions about Mom—her earlier hobbies, interests, likes and religious preferences. We loved introducing them to our sweet Mom and reminiscing about her.

Hospice also provided a social worker, Landra, who immediately made certain that Mom had all the supplies needed for her comfort and care.

I don’t know how my family could have navigated this difficult journey without the care and compassion of NMMC’s Hospice team. They truly are angels.

From the moment we met Reverend Ronnie Hatfield, NMMC Hospice chaplain, my sister and I felt calm and peace. When my sister and I introduced Reverend Ronnie to Mom, we all held hands and prayed together. It was a beautiful prayer and a tender moment that I will cherish.

Saying Goodbye to a Loved One

Hospice provided medications to help control Mom’s pain and anxiety. Earlier, even moving Mom in her bed caused her to cry out in pain. What a gift to see her in less pain and less anxious in her final days. Yet, she was still alert at times for us to talk with her and to say our goodbyes.

It’s important to tell your loved one that you love them, what a gift they have been to you, and how much having them in your life has meant. I have a special memory of holding Mom’s hand the night before she passed and telling her that I loved her. And, I remember doing the same with Dad—10 years ago.

Not every family is on good terms when a loved one becomes terminally ill. So if it’s appropriate, this may be the time to tell them “I’m sorry” or “You’re forgiven,” depending on the circumstances. I believe that doing so helps you as much as it does them.

Mom Passed Away

Sadly, Mom passed away shortly after hospice was initiated. We have peace in knowing that it was the correct choice for her course of care to keep her safe and comfortable in her home.

And, as we made her funeral arrangements, we couldn’t imagine a service without Reverend Ronnie presiding. Since he had only just met our mother, I sent a list of a few of our cherished memories of Mom.

One of our family’s favorites “Mom Memories” was how much she LOVED Christmas! Once everyone had come home and we were all seated together, Mom would look around the room, smile a huge smile and exclaim “Ain’t life grand!” Reverend Ronnie wove each memory beautifully into her service. Several people commented on how special his delivery was and how much they appreciated his words.

Grieving the Loss of a Loved One

Each person grieves differently. Take the time you need and grant yourself grace. I keep Mom and Dad close by doing things in their honor. Since Mom had a beautiful rose garden, I want to plant a few of her favorite roses.

Also, I find them both in nature. I am reminded of Mom and Dad each time see a beautiful sunrise or sunset. Their view from Heaven must be spectacular! And as the sky explodes into a multitude of pinks, corals and golds, I smile and think “Ain’t life grand?”

“It’s important to tell your loved one that you love them, what a gift they have been to you, and how much having them in your life has meant.”