CATEGORY: Grief and Loss
BY: Bill Finn, President and CEO, Hospice of the Western Reserve
Three months ago, my father and mother came to Cleveland so Dad could receive a heart valve replacement. We were confident that after a short recovery at our home, he would be back at his home in Florida. While Dad was in the hospital, the world changed in a way we could not have imagined. A complication uncovered metastatic cancer engulfing his liver.
Dad was given a prognosis of three months, which turned out to be only three weeks. During these three precious weeks, we turned to Hospice of the Western Reserve to provide the comfort and care that both Dad and Mom needed, and the counsel and guidance I, as one of his sons, needed as well.
The journey our family experienced was challenging and emotionally difficult. But it was also full of exceptional moments of beauty, forgiveness, tenderness and love. This would not have been possible without the physical, emotional, social and spiritual guidance of the hospice team.
Members of the care team anticipated our needs as Dad’s health failed. From the skillful administration of medications to make him more comfortable to the teaching and support, the ideal patient care they provided allowed us to be present with Dad and make every moment meaningful and comforting.
Hospice helped reassure and comfort Dad as he struggled with spiritual pain. On the final day of his life, he asked his nurse practitioner, Tamara Howell: “Why hasn’t God taken me yet?” She replied with understanding and humility: “Maybe your work isn’t done. Maybe you need to be here for someone.”
That night, with the knowledge of a sage, my father announced to his family: “I am going to die tomorrow.”
It was not scary or sad. Dad was telling us he was ready. Several hours later, the last of my three brothers arrived. Then, with Mom and his four sons holding him close, Dad took his last breath and left this world.
This moment, and all the moments leading up to that Friday night, will never be forgotten. The team of Hospice of the Western Reserve gave us our Dad’s life, moment by moment, when each moment was precious. Now, we move forward and learn to live a new reality. Dad is not here physically, but Barry William Finn is present in our hearts and minds every day.
Our family experience has given me an even deeper appreciation for the important work Hospice of the Western Reserve does every day. I see our mission now through the very personal lens of a son caring for his father. I thank God, and am humbled to be associated with this organization.