Providence hospice nurses share their stories of helping and hope

Hospice nurses at the Institute for Human Caring provide end-of-life care that addresses the physical, mental, spiritual and emotional health needs of patients and their loved ones.  

  • Hospice care is about continuing to live during every stage of life.
  • Hospice nurses focus on providing comfort and managing their patients’ pain and symptoms.
  • End-of-life care can offer hope and help when you and your loved ones need it most.

[2 MIN READ]

Being a hospice nurse is a unique calling that focuses on providing whole-person care for people living with terminal illnesses. Hospice nurses care for their patients during all the stages of their end-of-life journey. They offer physical care—of course—but they also address their patients’ (and loved ones’) emotional, spiritual and mental health needs as well. Their stories are filled with compassion, caring and love.

The Institute for Human Caring is capturing the memories, insights and recollections of hospice nurses in Hear Me Now interviews that tell the stories of hospice workers, their patients and their loved ones. The talks are presented in partnership with StoryCorps. This national non-profit organization preserves and shares humanity's stories to help build connections between all types of people.

Here’s a look at what some of these very special caretakers have to say.

An incredible, magical journey

A second cancer diagnosis isn’t keeping Suzanne Cogen from living life to the fullest. “I live completely in the moment,” says Suzanne. “This is not about dying. It’s about living.” Despite her terminal illness, Suzanne focuses on the “incredible, magical journey” of her life and her three passions: birding, drawing and agility training with her beloved dog Zeb.

Hear her story.

Love comes full circle

When Diann, a nurse educator for Sea Crest Hospice, started taking photographs of hospice patients and their families several years ago, she never imagined the impact it would have. “People get photographed at weddings or proms or for special occasions but not always at the end of life,” she says. Diann photographed Julie’s father at a ceremony celebrating his military service.

“Hospice isn’t just that last breath,” says Diann. “It’s living all the way through dying.”

The photographs illustrate Julie’s bond with her father and are among her most treasured possessions. Her father’s hospice experience prompted Julie to become a hospice volunteer. And as love often comes full circle, she now helps care for Diann’s mother-in-law. “Hospice isn’t just that last breath,” says Diann. “It’s living all the way through dying.”

Hear Diann and Julie’s story.

Rooted in love

Hospice patients often concentrate on the basics in life: faith, love and family, according to Kitty, a hospice nurse at Providence. “When people are facing death, they come to grips with what’s really important in life,” she says. For Jody, that became true when her mother was at the end of her life and Kitty was her nurse. After her mom’s passing, Jody brought Kitty a plant as a thank you. Twenty years later, Jody became a hospice volunteer and reconnected with Kitty. She was surprised to find the plant still thriving and the cuttings Kitty gave her gave root to a new friendship.

Hear Jody and Kitty’s story.

Remembering Randy

Hospice care for children was rare in 1981 when Anna lost her young son to brain tumors. “Hospice was barely even thought of at that time,” she says. Anna’s experience motivated her to become a hospice nurse and help other families receive the services they so badly need for comprehensive, compassionate end-of-life care, especially for children.

Hear Anna’s story.

The pathway down to the pond

Whether it’s the 98-year-old woman who took care of her husband in his final days or a minister who hung on for one last Christmas, hospice home care nurses David and Linda have been changed forever by their experiences.

“I don’t know if there’s anything much more important than to be able to be with someone when they transition,” says David. 

“I don’t know if there’s anything much more important than to be able to be with someone when they transition,” says David. “Being a hospice nurse just feels like who I am,” says Linda.

Hear Linda and David’s stories.

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If you or a loved one is facing terminal illness, take comfort in the palliative care services provided at the Institute for Human Caring at Providence.

Palliative care improves the quality of life for patients facing serious illness and offers an extra layer of support for families. Specially-trained teams of doctors, advance practice nurses, social workers and chaplains work in partnership with a patient’s physician to provide relief from the pain, side effects and stress that can accompany illness and treatment.

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Get relevant, up-to-date information on the coronavirus (COVID-19) from Providence.

If you need care, don’t delay. Learn more about your options.

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Find a doctor

Hospice care at Providence provides comprehensive, compassionate end-of-life care. Through Providence Express Care Virtual, you can access a full range of healthcare services. If you need to find a doctor, you can use our provider directory or search for one in your area.

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Related Resources

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Institute for Human Caring

This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.

About the Author

From how to identify and treat heart diseases to exercise tips to maintain an active lifestyle, the Providence Senior's Health team is committed to providing real-world advice that is hyper-relevant to helping those 65+ find ways stay young at heart

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