As pastor on our hospice team, I have had numerous opportunities to connect with family members at the funeral home. Whether it is by leading the memorial service or visiting with family members during the calling hours, it has been an honor to extend sympathies to the family on behalf of our entire hospice team. I do not take that responsibility lightly because I know that in the course of the time they spend with our patients, our nurses, social workers, aids, volunteers, and pastor become very close to our patients and their families. That genuine feeling of caring service is also exemplified by those who speak to our hospice families over the phone from the office.
Our hospice team has regular meetings where we discuss our patients’ individual needs in an effort to coordinate efforts to provide the best care that we can. I am privileged to have the opportunity to begin each meeting with a devotional thought and prayer. At one of our recent meetings, I had to share with the staff the blessing I often receive on their behalf at the funeral homes.
I have not done an actual study, but I would estimate that I hear a very similar comment from a family member at about 80% of the funeral home visits I make. It usually goes something like, “The hospice people are wonderful! They really made us feel like they care and were quick to respond to anything we needed.” I would suggest that the reason for that feeling is because the hospice team members really do care. In fact, that is one of the reasons I am the VNA hospice pastor today; as a result of the care my father received in the short time he was a VNA hospice patient. The nurse that came to his room at the hospital made us feel like my dad was the only patient in her world. She took all the time needed to sit with us, answer our questions, and just care for our dad. The home health aide took very special care to gently wash him and apply lotion to help him feel comfortable. The chaplain was there to offer friendly spiritual support. It all contributed to our being able to spend my father’s last days together in a peaceful way. Our hospice experience led to a quick and easy decision when I felt God’s call to hospice ministry.
I am thankful that our staff members have local ties. We are your home town hospice team. That is quickly evident when a need arises and is why I frequently hear at the funeral home that our team was quick to respond when they have needed us.
When I shared the blessing with our staff, I told them how their care for our patients reminds me of my life verse from the Bible. Colossians 3:17 says, “And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus giving thanks to God the Father through Him.” In other words; we don’t do what we do out of selfish motives, but rather from a caring heart for our fellow community members and a sense that what we are doing is bigger than ourselves.
I feel compelled to close with a thank you to our donors who support the vision to go beyond what is expected when we care for our patients and their families. You have no idea the impact you have on the lives you touch. Please accept our heart-felt thanks.
Rev. Randy Kightlinger