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April 14, 2013

Your view: Letters to the editor

Hospice provide excellent care when needed most

To the editor:

My dad passed from this life on June 23, 2012. Over the previous 18 months of his illness we were fortunate to meet many qualified and caring professionals. However, when the very difficult conversation related to end of life issues approached, I was ill-prepared and admittedly misinformed. During such an emotional and difficult time, it was not easy to find answers and resources quickly.

Fortunately for my dad (and for me) he was referred to Merrimack Valley Hospice. Soon our notions of end of life began to change and we discovered that the Hospice philosophy of care has more to do with living than with dying. It was an extraordinary shift in how we approached and cherished each new day.

When the hospice team felt that they could no longer manage my dad’s care from home, my dad was welcomed to the Merrimack Valley Hospice House in Haverhill. The Hospice House is a remarkable place of hope, comfort, and peace. My dad improved in the tranquility and personalized attention of this setting. His meals were prepared to order and he found amazing comfort in the views from full length windows and skylights to his private patio. We took many strolls around the lush green spaces last spring with me pushing his wheelchair and him sharing stories and wisdom.

While the grounds, facility, and individual patient suites are exquisite, it is not the setting that makes this such an extraordinary place. What I came to appreciate were the angels and dedicated practitioners that include every member of the Hospice House team. Always positive, always hopeful, always respectful — my dad was provided with the dignity that every patient deserves as life’s end comes near.

There was a print of a beautiful butterfly in my dad’s room on the day his spirit flew. I came to adopt this symbol as one of comfort in the months that have passed. As Richard Bach wrote, “What the caterpillar calls the end of the world, the Master calls a butterfly.” If you have the chance to sit in the center garden of the MVHH near the coy pond, I hope the bronze and green glass butterfly garden stakes will bring you comfort. My grandson Connor and I delivered them as a tribute to my dad late last summer.

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