That was then; this is now…

A year ago on St Patrick’s Day, my friend, Joe, and I were driving to the DC Veterans’ hospital for Covid vaccines. I had lucked out and gotten my first shot space-available (remember the early vaccine days when age- or pre-existing conditions restrictions made getting vaccinated challenging?). On the way to the hospital, Joe was telling me about his mother and her illness. I’m not a professional but I had volunteered with hospice and my father received hospice care at the end of his life. I also had a chaplain’s perspective seeing what terminal care looks like inside a hospital. Given Joe’s mother’s symptoms, the trajectory of her illness, and her wishes, I suggested that his family might consider involving hospice. When doctors think a patient’s survival outcome is time-limited (generally six months or less) and a patient or family agrees, care shifts to comfort and quality of life rather than curative treatment. Hospice’s specialty is providing holistic services for those who are facing the end of life, including pain and symptom management and emotional and spiritual support. Enrolling in hospice is a personal decision — each of us needs to decide what matters most. When you have limited time remaining, do you want to spend it with doctors and in hospitals getting sometimes painful treatments that may or may not work or spend the time with the people and projects that matter?

St Patrick’s Day is a celebration of Irish culture. As a first-generation American, it’s a day when I remember my parents and their siblings who emigrated from Ireland, as well as my brothers and cousins who benefited from our parents’ decisions. This year, St Patrick’s day was also auspicious for these reasons:

  • Our son, daughter-in-law, and the grandkids (including grandson, Patrick) visited. It’s always a banner day to see them.
  • My book, Good Goodbyes: A Mortal’s Guide to Life went “live” for sales on Amazon
  • And, in an ironic plot twist given the book’s message of good goodbyes, I met with my hospice nurse. The tumor has been Putin-like in aggressiveness, invading other organs and wrapping around blood vessels. Four doctors have suggested that hospice might be a good option for me. Theory has become reality.

I don’t mind using Index Card Cure to promote Good Goodbyes. While I hope that the book will provide useful guidance for any reader who hopes for a good goodbye, this can be a twofer. Copies purchased will benefit West Point. All profits generated by sales of this book will go to the West Point Women’s Conference Endowment. The book’s dedication page has this inscription:

Joe will drive me to an oncology appointment at Walter Reed this week, which may be my last trip there. I know that we’ll talk about hospice again, but now I have an insider’s perspective, as tumor growth seems to have outpaced medical alternatives. But, it’s okay… I am comforted knowing that I’ve had time for being with the people who matter most and for completing some important projects.

We can’t predict what the future holds. Tomorrow is not promised. What we can do is consider the people who are most important to us and our values. A little preparation can go a long way to making things better in hard times.

© Joan S Grey, 29 MAR 2022 ∞
IndexCardCure™: Luck of the Irish

Featured image photo credit: Collin Agee

PS If you read Good Goodbyes and find it helpful, please leave a review. Thanks.

8 thoughts on “That was then; this is now…

  1. Dear Joan, I work with hospice patients, too, and I have seen the difference hospice can make. You and your family will be in my prayers and if I can help in any way, please let me know. And I’m getting your book and that’s wonderful that the proceeds will go to West Point Women’s Conference- Max and his wife, Megan Kelty, are both grads ❤️. Love you, my friend! Julia


  2. Beautiful, courageous, compassionate friend – what a generous gift to those looking for guidance on sharing memories with loved ones – and to WPWC. My heart aches – God’s peace to you and yours. Love you – Mary


  3. Joan, oh my gosh, I love reading your posts and will definitely purchase “Good Goodbyes”. I volunteered at our Hospice ICU in North Arlington and the patients I worked with framed so much of my outlook on life. From the elderly ex-nun who told me she wished she had sinned more to the young AIDS patient whose life was so short, but he harbored no anger, to the Franciscan priest who dubbed me a “saint” for driving him back to the CU campus each week instead of depositing him at a Metro stop. (easiest cannonization ever). I sure want to be in the hands of those hospice doctors and nurses when my time comes. My goal is to leave with a smile on my face and I think they are just the people to help me reach that goal. Peace to you, Joan!


  4. Beautifully said. Thank you for your lovely gift, especially to all your West Point sisters who love you very much. ❤️ Je t’embrasse
    Sue xo


  5. Joan. I too was at the women’s conference this past weekend and I saw you amongst all the attendees and I wish I had come up to you to speak to you. We met years ago at the 2006 women’s conference. I was working for hospice then and I believe you were doing g your chaplain program. You and your family are in my thoughts and prayers as you navigate this this journey. How generous of you to donate the proceeds of your book to the West Point Women’s endowment. I will add that book to my collection on end of life care. Peace and love to you.


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