The nature of dying is unique. Those involved in the process have a variety of emotional, physical, spiritual, and social needs. The terminally ill and their families need guidance and sensitivity when faced with the challenge of mortality. The final stage of life to impending death to the family left behind is painful and difficult to bear. Hospice and the services it provides are instrumental for a smooth journey through these emotional times. From a brief history on the origin of Hospice to the services it provides I hope to convince all readers that Hospice is not the “kiss of death” but a loving way to say goodbye.
The term “hospice” (from the root “hospitality”) can be traced back to early Western Civilization. It was a place where the weary or sick traveler could find shelter or care. With the advancement of modern medicine in the 1900s doctors have been able to prolong the lives of the terminally ill. These advancements started to rob patients and their families of the natural dying process, robbing them of the ability to have a “voice” in the treatment methods to be used. In the 1940s, British physician Cicely Saunders and Dr. Elisabeth Kubler-Ross began exploring ways to improve the process of dying. Though independent, these women came to the same conclusion; the dying should never be cast aside without a thought to the importance of their life. They brought awareness to the fact that the dying are individuals and deserve respect.
By the 1960s, Dr. Saunders had worked with the dying for 20 years when she founded the first modern hospice in London, England. She had been inspired while working with a dying patient who had asked for nothing more than kindness, friendship, and words of comfort during his last days. Her belief was, “we do not have to cure to heal.” In 1964, Dr. Saunders began teaching her creed at the Yale...