“I can continue helping veterans through my work with Hospice.”
Taking care of our troops and our veterans has always been important to me. It requires the utmost respect. I worked at the VA as an employee, but I’m also a patient. I have disabilities that are unseen as a result of my military career.
I can continue helping veterans through my work with Hospice. I can relate to veterans, especially those who have been to war. There’s a special contact. A lot of veterans won’t reveal their secrets and their stories unless they’re talking to another veteran.
When I’m at the home of a veteran who has died, I contact the funeral home to bring a flag so we can drape it over the body when we remove them from the house. One time a gentleman had a flagpole in his yard, and the family allowed me to lower the flag to half-mast before he left the home.
It takes a people person to do this work. Being able to console, to touch, hug individuals and families. Helping people understand that even when someone is dying, normal interactions still matter.
I was in a house one time and the grandchildren were there. The lady wasn’t opening her eyes. One of the last things to go is hearing. The family was trying to be quiet and solemn and I told them, “Don’t be quiet. Be yourself. Go ahead and talk, let the kids play, because she can still hear you. It helps her know there are other people in the room and she’s not alone.”
I spent the first 32 years of my nursing career focused on acute care, saving lives and improving the quality of life. Now I’m focused on how to improve the quality of death.