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Human Right to Die a Dignified Death, a look at Hospice

Updated on May 31, 2011

The Right to die a dignified Death and Hospice

Physical death comes to us all, and there is no avoiding it.  At some point, the bodies we were given are going to give out.  My experience and volunteering with Hospice makes this process a lot better, or less negative if that were possible.  I am so impressed with the people that work and volunteer with hospice that I have no words sufficient for what they do.  Part of what they believe is that death is just another part of life, and that people deserve to die with as much dignity, peace and little pain as possible.  They absolutely achieve this, as far as I have seen.

This is a huge help to the families involved with the dying of a loved one.  Death might not be right around the corner, but for whatever reason the person is being put on hospice.  This means they can often go home, if they have been in the hospital, and they can be given medicine to be made comfortable.  Nurses and counselors are involved if need be and if wanted. 


Hospice, what are its roots

Hospice seems to be a new thing in some of our societies, but really its roots go way back to medieval times.  Back then, it was a kind of shelter for weary travelers that had gone great distances.  Over time, Hospice has turned into what we see today.  Going back to London in 1967, you will find a Dr. Cicely Saunders.  He founded St. Christopher's Hospice care for dying patients.  This concept then spread to the United States where Connecticut was first to adopt it. Over time, the idea of what Hospice is all about, caught on and it has grown throughout the United States and a lot of the rest of the world. 

This means that many dying people have been helped to get a dignified death, when death is on the horizon.   It seems so obvious a thought, but it needed to be implemented.  This is a great human right, that shouldn't be ignored if at all possible.  There is help out there for people that are dying, and for their families as well.  This is a very heart warming thing to observe in the world, and it makes me really happy that people want to help out like this.

Emphasis is on compassion and pain relief and comfort, or palliative care.  The focus is on quality of life at this point, not prolonging life.  Making it the best experience of what is left of life.  People can be put on hospice care that have been diagnosed with 6 or less months to live. 

What to expect when a loved one is in Hospice

As previously stated, both the patient and the family is embraced during this difficult time.  What is really neat is that a very specialized team of professionals that have the same philosophy, try to meet the needs of the family.  You will find trained volunteers, aides, clergy, nurses and doctors, and social workers as well.  There is often other personnel such as physical or occupational therapists as well. 

To find out more about exactly what hospice may offer to you, your family or friends, contact them directly.  There is a National Hospice Hotline Organization at 1-800-658-8898.  Or, you can type this address in your address bar at the top of your computer screen, 

I would highly recommend hospice, as these are some of the nicest people you will ever meet.  I know firsthand from both sides, how they helped our own family when my grandfather passed away.  Also a dear friend, who lost his wife to cancer, and then on to when I volunteered with Hospice and went through their training, I have been very impressed with how they try to help others have a dignified death and give such incredible support to their loved ones as well.

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    • oceansnsunsets profile imageAUTHOR


      5 years ago from The Midwest, USA

      I am sorry that your experience with Hospice hasn't been a satisfactory one, especially during what can be the hardest parts of our lives. I only know of the experiences I have had myself and my own family, as well as my experience during the time I volunteered with them. The time frame is so short usually and if severe pain accompanies people as they are dying, the pain relief given by the medications is often very welcomed. For concerns like your own, I would definitely pass along that information and or questions to those that are above the hospice aids or nurses you have worked with. I don't speak for Hospice, nor am employed by them and never have been. I am just saying that in general, what your experience has been is not what I think they are going for.

      My sincere condolences to you and your family during this time of your Mother's stage of life. My heart goes out to you, as I can somewhat understand the concerns about care near the end for a parent. I hope that it gets better. Thank you for your comment.

    • profile image


      5 years ago

      I had heard only high praise about Hospice, so it seemed a no-brainer when my Mother's doctor recommended Hospice at this point of her illness, battling lung cancer plus and a current stroke. It has been a complete shock how little they offer. The answer to everything is "morphine." They are perfectly lovely people who come by and chat with us almost everyday, but as far as anything more - zilch. Responses to anything we bring up are met with vague responses or suggestions to increase dosage. I had read some "hospice nightmare" stories but mostly discounted them based on what friends had told me; now, however, I think the "horror stories" are closer to reality. Hospice offers nothing and probably hurts more than helps.

    • oceansnsunsets profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from The Midwest, USA

      Mrs J.B., sorry for the delay in my response here. I have not read that book, but it sounds fascinating. So sorry to hear about your Mother. That had to have been a rough time for you. I want to read that book one day. Thanks so much for sharing and leaving a comment.

      Ryan Lee, that is so great to hear, and I am not surprised one bit that you are always amazed by those people. It is almost like they are living angels sometimes. I am so glad to hear this, and its good to share so people know there is hope and real help during some of the hardest times of our lives. My father just died this year. Hospice was there for us, and as always, it meant the world to our family. I cannot say enough good about them.

    • profile image

      Ryan Lee 

      8 years ago

      Over the years I have the the chance to meet and speak with hospice workers (both medical and social workers), and without reservation I can say that they have been some of the most caring and loving people that I have ever encountered. As an expert on the death care industry I regularly work with and assist those working in the hospice service, and they never cease to amaze me

    • Mrs. J. B. profile image

      Mrs. J. B. 

      8 years ago from Southern California

      My Mom was a nurse that ended up dying of cancer. She was brave because she knew what to expect. Have you read the book called NURSE? It is all about hospice care and how the nurses make that final journey a pain free one. You will cry but it is a true story. Worth reading.

    • oceansnsunsets profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from The Midwest, USA

      Happyboomernurse, thank you for the comment, and for reading the hub. I think its wonderful that you recommend it to people that can use it, as not maybe everyone knows about it.

    • Happyboomernurse profile image

      Gail Sobotkin 

      8 years ago from South Carolina

      I hope many get to read this comprehensive and interesting hub about hospice. My first love died of cancer when I was a teenager and there were no hospice services available at that time. During my nursing career I frequently recommended hospice in situations where the physician advised that the patient had less than 6 months to live because I knew hospice would provide support for the whole family, not just the patient.

      Thanks for sharing this information. I particularly enjoyed the historical facts.

    • oceansnsunsets profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago from The Midwest, USA

      Thank you PhoenixV.

    • PhoenixV profile image


      9 years ago from USA

      I think this is a much better alternative to hospitals in so many ways. Great hub.

    • oceansnsunsets profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago from The Midwest, USA

      Thank you Esatchel!

    • esatchel profile image


      9 years ago from Kentucky

      Hospice provides an important service. They can help a dying person AND their family with a multitude of services and support. Thank you for this thoughtful hub!

    • oceansnsunsets profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago from The Midwest, USA

      Tonymac, your experience echoes mine and so many others that I have heard about. So glad that it helped your family and your dad, and that would make them so glad because that is the goal. I wish the best for your mother in law as she is going through right now. Love and peace to you too Tony!

    • oceansnsunsets profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago from The Midwest, USA

      Helene, I am so sorry to hear that, and I would highly recommend sharing that experience with hospice, and keep going higher if you don't get a response that satisfies. That would be the first time I ever heard of such a case, but I am sure it can happen. I would highly encourage you to share your experience about those workers, as they are not what hospice is looking for (from what I know of the organization.) Those people are acting opposite of what Hospice is all about. Thank you for your comment.

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      You know not all hospice are serving the elderly great. I have a relative who worked in some hospice and she was really upset on how other workers treat the elderly people there which makes her so depressed.

    • tonymac04 profile image

      Tony McGregor 

      9 years ago from South Africa

      When my mother was dying the Hospice people were totally awesome, especially in helping my dad cope. They were just wonderful. Hospice is also helping my mother-in-law's dying process right now. They deserve all the help and praise they can get for the wonderful service they provide.

      Thanks for this great tribute to a truly wonderful organisation.

      Love and peace


    • oceansnsunsets profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago from The Midwest, USA

      Thank you Carolina!!

    • carolina muscle profile image

      carolina muscle 

      9 years ago from Charlotte, North Carolina

      Hospice renders an important service-- great post!!!

    • oceansnsunsets profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago from The Midwest, USA

      Thank you very much Patty. I agree about the Hospice staff giving valuable support.

    • oceansnsunsets profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago from The Midwest, USA

      Hello Stephanie, so glad to hear that your experience with Hospice was as great as mine, they are such a wonderful group. I think they deserve any recognition we can give to them, and to spread the word about the great help they are to families.

    • Patty Inglish, MS profile image

      Patty Inglish MS 

      9 years ago from USA and Asgardia, the First Space Nation

      Good Hub, rated Up and across the board. Hospice staff give valueable support.

    • Stephanie Henkel profile image

      Stephanie Henkel 

      9 years ago from USA

      This is a much deserved tribute to Hospice. Three of our family members were cared for at home by Hospice. The nurses were incredibly supportive to both the patient and the family during the illness and helped make the final days both more comfortable and more meaningful.


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