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‘I Will Never Forget You’: November a Time for Gratitude for Hospice


November is a month brimming with gratitude. Of course, it’s home to the Thanksgiving holiday, but now the whole month has been dubbed gratitude month, a time many use to think about all they have to be grateful for. Additionally, it’s National Hospice and Palliative Care Month (HAPCM), a social media and awareness campaign that gives recognition to, and education about, these important end-of-life services.

The 2023 HAPCM campaign is focused on “Courageous Conversations.” 

According to the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization (NHPCO), these conversations can be life changing. They write, “In a culture that often teaches us to resist mortality and a healthcare system defined by interventionism, the seemingly simple act of having a conversation about dying can have a profound impact.”

Throughout the month, NHPCO is encouraging everyone to have these Courageous Conversations to start a meaningful dialogue on “dying a good death.”  

Hospice is often misunderstood. After all, unless you have been there through a friend or family member or you work in the field, you may not know about the many gifts it brings to those who are at life’s end.

And of course, hospice is more than just an institution or a type of health care. It is the people — social workers, nurses, aides, doctors and volunteers, lots and lots of volunteers — who care for patients in their final weeks, bringing all their humanity to the care.

But what’s clear from these messages of thanks is that hospice care touches not just the patient, but their families and partners, giving them final moments with guidance from a calm, caring touch that they will always remember.

A couple of years ago we gathered these anonymous thank you messages from two of our close friends in the field who shared them with us to help raise awareness about what hospice and palliative care can give patients and their families. Tulip Cremation thanks all that work to improve the end-of-life experience for their service.

“Thank you for being there for our family. Even when he became agitated and we were scared, you stayed calm. What we will all remember is how you brought us into his room and said it was close. You suggested we pray, which you knew was important to us. You stayed with us, you held us, you helped us get through that day. Thank you from all of us.”

“Thank you for being honest with me about how things were going to go with my mom at the end. I didn’t want to hear it initially, but your kind, compassionate manner made hearing this information so much easier. Thanks for being brave enough to talk to me straight. It made my mom’s final days so much easier for all of us.”

“Being with my sister when she was dying was the hardest thing I have ever had to do, but you stayed with me every step of the way. I was grateful for your help during that tough time, but what will stay with me always is the day you walked in the door, after she had died, and walked right up to me and held me and let me cry. I could not have done this without you, thank you.”

“I want to express my sincere gratitude for the role you played in my mom’s care. Each week you would check in or visit, to see how we were doing. You always made sure that we had what we needed. We really appreciated the overall constant care and personal interest. Also, I’ve been reflecting on our conversations and how uplifting they were to me, and I hope to you as well.”

“I will never forget the day you picked up the phone when I feared my sweet husband was dying. You talked to me until he died. You told me what to do, and what to say and how to be with him. Your words comforted me and helped me to not feel alone, and I will be thankful to you for that forever.”

“Thank you for sticking with me when I wasn’t sure I could actually make his wish come true. You believed in me, and because of that, he was able to have the death he wanted. I will always be grateful for that.”

“I was a mess, I didn’t know what to do, I was scared and sad and you sat me down on the couch and asked me to talk about him. You kept saying, ‘say his name,’ which I didn’t understand at first but after the third or fourth time, I felt a calmness come over me, like he was with me. I say his name all the time now. I appreciate you more than you know. Thank you for doing the work you do.”

“Thank you for crying with me. Thank you for holding my hand and being there for me the entire time. I will never forget you.”

We’d like to thank the Hospice Heart’s Gabby Jimenez and the Death Deck’s Lisa Pahl for sharing these letters with us. They represent the thanks all in the field are owed for their important work.