Hospice and Palliative Care
The concept of hospice has been evolving since the 11th century. Hospice and Palliative Care are devoted to the physical, emotional, spiritual, and social concerns that often come with advanced illness. Research has proven that animals reduce stress levels and increase our sense of well being. Pets provide a calming presence that is healing to the heart. These powers are often amplified at the bedside of a patient in his or her final days. Pet Therapy using many kinds of animals have shown remarkable results.
For patients who are still mobile, watching as a flock of white birds are released is a special treat. Taking a bird in to see someone who is bedridden can be amazing. There is something about the birds that touches the ill as nothing else can.
One of our members is particularly amazing, she goes to the Hospice at least twice a week. I asked Denise to try to describe how her visits have touched her and the people in Hospice. What she wrote follows below...
"It is such an amazing feeling, I feel an overwhelming sense of fulfillment. An overwhelming sense of gratitude from the family. My eyes mist. My heart swells. Most of the time the prayers said from the family are prayers that their loved one pass away to end suffering. They hug you so tight and thank you over, and over again. It is amazing how many of them pass on the evening that I come.
"I was there last Thursday, there was a man that was not doing well. He was drifting in and out, and his son did a release. Forward to Sunday afternoon... I was kicked back in the recliner almost asleep, and suddenly I sat up and said that I needed to run up to Hospice. I gathered some birds, drove up there (only a few miles away) went in and told the nurses I was there, and then proceeded around to the back deck.
"Most rooms have big french-doors that lead outside to the deck. This woman came running out, hugged me and said she was not there Sunday when her brother did the release and she did not think her dad would be there much longer. I asked if she wanted me to take the dove in to her father and we did. Dad was not aware at that point but we put his hand on the dove. I said this dove is yours, it is believed to carry our souls to heaven and we ask the Lord to hear our prayers. We all wiped tears away.
"When I came back outside an elderly gentleman was standing outside crying and pleaded with me to take a dove to his wife. "I went back inside with his family and that is how this picture came about. She was not aware either but I always believe their souls are with us and we can reach them on a different level. When we were all walking back out to go the back deck, he took my hand and we walked together. I let them release the doves that their loved ones had held. This was probably the most emotional release I have done. Everyone says it brings them such a feeling of peace. The man passed about an hour later and the lady passed later that evening.
"If I never did a paid release again, I do not think I could stop going to Hospice. The nurses tell me thank you, that I am a blessing, and that the families never stop talking about it. Last Monday I went and only one patient had family there. They wheeled her bed out on the deck and she actually released a dove... She was so precious. The next day she slipped into coma and died the day after but her sister-in-law told me that she talked all day about that dove.
"Another time we did a release and a dove circled with the flock then broke away and landed on the roof. The lady in the room below passed that evening.
"Sometimes I feel I am a death angel, but I truly do believe that our birds are full of spirit."