Last Words from Hospice

Last Words

A wise man once said, “The best education in the world is at the bedside of the dying.” As hospice nurses, we are blessed, indeed, to observe such miracles from those who have one foot through heaven’s gate!

Spirituality is an important component for all members of the hospice interdisciplinary team, as we each visit the patient and family at different intervals. In this respect, our roles often overlap due to timing and the situation. A chaplain may note the need for more pain control, just as the nurse may be privy to the most intimate responses from those souls who are knocking at death’s door.

End-of-life care is the one specialty where the staff universally believes in a hereafter, and a creator. We offer honesty and authenticity, without proselytizing. We respect, without judgement, the belief of the patient and the family. Witnessing people’s transitions is so faith-affirming that most hospice nurses find the work more of a calling than a career.

Here are a few last words that we have either heard ourselves, or were told to us from reliable sources:

  • “There is a long line. It isn’t my turn yet. My angel will wait with me. Her name….Gloria. She says her name is Gloria.”
  • “God has such beautiful flowers in Heaven.”
  • “Gertrude has grown into the most beautiful young woman.” Gertrude was a daughter who had died as a toddler.
  • “When they were resuscitating me, I saw everyone from above, like I was a fly on the ceiling. The music in heaven is like none that you have ever heard. Soooo beautiful!”
  • “When I was so deeply asleep, I met a little four-year-old girl there. She was also in a coma.”
  • “Do you know why I am still here? God’s waiting room is full. But I saw Harvey Miller! I didn’t know he had died!”
  • “Peaches is back. (The dog had died.) He is running around my recliner, like old times.”
  • “I am going to be OK! I’m going to LOVE it! The girl across the hall, the one like me, says I’m going to love it in heaven.” (The girl who had occupied that room had died two years earlier.)

What a privilege it is to hear these thrilling statements from our diverse, home-going souls. It is confirmation that the Scriptures are true:

“God will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away” (Revelation 21:4).

“However, as it is written: ‘What no eye has seen, what no ear has heard, and what no human mind has conceived, the things God has prepared for those who love him’” (1 Corinthians 2:9).

“My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you?” (John 14:2)

These remarkable transitions through Heaven’s Gate are a welcome reminder of what is on the other side.

–by Lorna Bell RN, CHPN, in collaboration with Barbara Cliff, RN, PhD, CHPCA

Excerpts and stories used with permission. For more uplifting end-of-life stories, see Even More Happy Endings, by Barbara Cliff & Lorna Bell.

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