Mercy Hospice, Angels of Mercy and Festival of Trees
● By Billy Pilgrim
Care and Compassion
Story by Billy Pilgrim
HOSPICE – I ‘d heard of it, but never knew what it meant until my family needed Mercy Hospice. I always thought the word itself had a nice sound, evoking a soft, comfortable feeling, like home. And as I found out while dealing with end-of-life issues with three of my immediate family members, hospice is what the word sounds like – a special place for people who are nearing their end-of-life destination, and for the families and friends who love and care for them.
For the members of my family on their final journey, Mercy Hospice provided compassion and comfort, and the care needed to give our loved ones a significant positivity in their quality of life. For our family and friends involved in the at-home caregiving, Mercy Hospice granted us an understanding of what we were experiencing, an opportunity to seek patience and calm in an unsettled and very insular world, and the greatly needed gift of sanctuary. While hospice provides the very needed medications, oxygen, hospital beds and other necessary medical supplies needed during a life-limiting illness, they also give dignity to the sick, and bereavement support for the friends and family so deeply involved.
One of the great constants in our experience was the care and compassion we experienced from Meredith Bishop, who led our family through my sister’s and brother’s journey. I asked Meredith where her noble calling came from, and when she knew it was time to become a hospice nurse. “I knew when I was working in ICU, and I became so concerned for the families. I like the families to be involved, and to be able to give them some education about their loved one. When is it time to let go? What are we experiencing, seeing? It’s an extraordinary event that requires insight to be understood. Rather than extending life, we sometimes are only prolonging death in a manner that is not acceptable to the patient. It can be very scary for the families. I receive incredible satisfaction being able to help families understand what they are going through.”
My experience with the Angels of Mercy led me to my interest in the Festival of Trees, an annual fundraising event presented by Mercy Foundation North and Merchants Bank of Commerce. It benefits hospice services throughout the North State. Not everyone is able to pay for the care at the end of life. This seventh annual event raises funds to make up the difference between those who are able to pay and those unable to contribute. I was honored to speak at it one year. It’s a beautiful, joyful party and a great kickoff to the holiday season. You are invited to this wonderful event Saturday night, Nov. 16, at Turtle Bay Museum. Visit SupportMercyNorth.org for more information. Perhaps you would like to be a hospice volunteer? There are many opportunities for you to share kindness and mercy, including the “No One Dies Alone” program. If you can spare a few hours of your time, call (530) 245-4073.
Not every community is as blessed as we are. Not every community has in-home hospice care. I am beyond grateful to have experienced the abiding love from Mercy Hospice. •