Caring for people at end of life brings hospice caregivers into contact with a variety of people and stories. At VNA, our staff and volunteers have the opportunity to know patients, along with their families and friends, in a deeply unique way. Walking with patients during such a poignant time is something to be valued and celebrated. We are thankful for our chance to be witness to such special moments.
One of our chaplains and nurses recently shared a story comes about one of their hospice care patients. Known as a “collector”, she owned a large and interesting collection of small porcelain shoes. They varied greatly in size and color and some were quite beautiful. Given as gifts from friends and family, much of the patient’s life moments were remembered through these shoes.
At the graveside service her best friend, neighbor, and primary caregiver brought a larger version of one ceramic shoe. The shoe was filled with the same artificial flowers the patient’s son had given to his mother before he died. These two ladies had spent their lives sharing and caring for one another. It was a touching memorial to a woman who had lost both of her children prior to her death and had no known surviving family members. Her friends were faithful through the end.
The precious memorial was a perfect way to celebrate the life of this patient and her friendship with her caregiver. Such stories demonstrate how hospice care centers not just on patients, but on their families and friends as well. We are proud to offer the holistic care that celebrates and values these stories.