Hope is a constant companion to the terminally ill throughout their entire disease process. Initially, there is hope for a cure, a return to health, and to life as they have always known it. When the time comes for a person to acknowledges that a cure may not be possible, and they choose to forego treatment, does that mean that all hope is lost? Many people feel that an admission to hospice means just that.
However, many people fail to realize that hope doesn’t lie solely in finding a cure. David Kessler, in his book, The Needs of the Dying, wrote, “We only see hope in a cure, and we feel hopeless when we believe there is none. The dying, however, see the value of living hopefully rather than hopelessly, and that is why they choose hope as their companion on their final journey.”
Hospice philosophy recognizes that hope is fluid and changes as a person’s disease progresses. Hope may shift from wanting to find a cure initially to hope in mending a strained relationship or being comfortable when passing. The interdisciplinary hospice team assists the patient and their family in identifying new hopes and fulfilling new dreams in the final chapter of their lives.
How do we know the hopes, dreams, and goals of a person with a terminal illness? It’s simple; we ask. What are your goals for your care? If a cure is not possible, how does that change your goals, and what is important to you? This encourages the person and their family to explore hopefulness outside of a cure alone. More importantly, it encourages open dialogue that is often difficult to discuss and empowers people in a situation where they often feel that they have lost control.
At Pathway Hospice, we understand the important role that hope plays. Our team strives to actively offer support and education to fulfill our patient’s wishes for their end-of-life care. Hospice does not take away hope. It cultivates it.