On his 90th birthday, my father said, “Never say no to someone in need.” He was a man who cared about his neighbors, who brought them food, and taught all of us to be aware that not everyone shares the same blessings at the same time. Thanking those who help is the other side of this. As the new president of the Whatcom Hospice Foundation Board, I was given dozens of thank-you notes to the organization to review. It was an eye-opening experience.
Hospice help touches so many local people each year. Their gratitude is profound, both that of the patients, and the families and loved ones. I wanted to use these thank you notes somehow to prove the effect our active hospice program has. I asked the office if they were saving them, and I borrowed them to read. It was a bag full of tears and joy.
We would like to thank you from the bottom of our hearts for the kindness and care you gave to our mother, ourselves and our family members. We can truthfully say that having our Mom there was by far the best thing to happen to us.
With total gratitude,”
Most of the letters are similar. The Hospice House offers a place to end life in comfort, surrounded by people who care. It is not to be taken for granted. Previous to this service, many people passed on in an impersonal room, sometimes isolated at home, without someone who understood the process and how difficult it can be.
By the early 1900’s, death had become something one didn’t speak of, and often patients and families weren’t told that the inevitable was coming. Patients sometimes weren’t allowed visitors, with physicians thinking it was best for all concerned if everyone “rested” and didn’t discuss it. Fortunately, the thinking changed, partly due to the book “The American Way of Death”, by Jessica Mitford, in 1963. She said that dying had become commercialized and not only did we not face it head on, but we made up for our grief and guilt by purchasing expensive funerals.
End of life at home with specialized care in America didn’t take root until the 1970’s, after publication of Dr. Elisabeth Kubler-Ross’ book “On Death and Dying”, which dealt with the phases a terminally patient goes through when recognizing that death is imminent, and by 1986, Congress enacted benefits to cover Hospice Care.
Now, with hundreds of thank you letters to review, my admiration of this program, its staff and volunteers grows, and I felt I should share a few more of these thank-you notes with you.
These letters are from the heart. I hope they give you an appreciation for our local organization that does so much for people in their time of need. Thank you for reading them with me.
Bellingham Hospice House – https://whatcomhospice.org/