advice from hospice care staff

 

Yesterday, Howard Rassier, Rebecca’s dad, passed away under the attentive care of hospice staff at Our Lady of Peace.

Howard was not the most emotive man, except when he’d smile at his own dry wit. But he showed his love in deeds. In this regard, our house and household is full of Howard’s love.

One of the pieces of advice Rebecca received from staff a couple of times was “Today is the best day.”

Of course, they were speaking these wise words specifically regarding being with a person in hospice. “Today is the best day” to say or do the things that would be most meaningful for the short time you have left with a loved one. For Rebecca that meant being by Howard’s side as much as she could the last 10 days of his life. Some of that time was spent outside an emergency room, some time in a hospital, and then the last six days in hospice. Rebecca shortened some workdays, took some days off, and spent nearly all of last weekend with him. Each day was the best day to be there for Howard.

Now, I don’t want to make the phrase trite, but the first minute I heard “Today is the best day,” I thought it was general life advice provided by the staff. Perhaps it was because when Howard was admitted to Our Lady of Peace he was fully cognizant. On the second day, Rebecca and Howard looked at old pictures and fun paperwork from Howard’s past. Yup, that day was the best day to do those things. But then Howard deteriorated very quickly, sleeping a lot and sometimes, when awake, he did not always seem to know where he was. The phrase took on extra meaning.

Again, I don’t want to make the phrase trite, but it really is good life advice. I say this, as readers of this blog know, that not every day is the best day for me. Saying or doing things as if that were the best day would seem and would be completely out of place.

But on the days that I do feel well, I really should be treating those days as the best days. The best days to show Rebecca how much I love her; the best days to strengthen relationships with friends, family, and colleagues; the best days to live my values; the best days to take care of myself (because tomorrow will be better for that); and on and on and on.

Friends, today is the best day.

 

7 Comments

  1. Cecily Hedman 3 April 2018 at 8:44 pm

    I’m so sorry for Rebecca’s and your loss. I hope that your memories of Howard will provide you both with comfort during this difficult time. Sending prayers and hugs to you both.

     
    • Michael Dahl 3 April 2018 at 8:51 pm

      Thank you, Cecily! He died peacefully, knowing people cared about him. That definitely brings a comfort to a sad loss.

       
  2. Laila 4 April 2018 at 12:23 am

    This Michael…. is the BEST post you have written so far. Please give my regards to Rebecca and my condolences to both of you. I too try to live my life with a title. It is called “ I choose”. I choose to not let this bother me, I choose to ignore that, I choose to accept the way I am etc etc. But “This is the best day” will certainly become my second phrase/title to live by.

     
    • Michael 4 April 2018 at 2:33 am

      Thank you, Laila. Thank you for all the support you’ve provided me over the years and, again, for being such a great friend.

      Admittedly, I am still searching for my mantra(s). My hang up is that no phrase comes naturally to me yet. Also, I think I need at least two mantras, at least one for the good days and at least one for the bad days. If I could choose (and then practice what I preach), the good day phrase would, in fact, be “Today is the best day.” And if I could choose a phrase for the bad days, it would be “Afford myself the same kindness, patience, and understanding I extend to others who are going through similar situations.”

      I am prone to hope that some day I will find and live according to deeply meaningful mantras. Deep reflection will get me there.

       
  3. Rogier 4 April 2018 at 9:37 am

    Hey Michael, Laila “made me” read the post, it is indeed a valuable one. Glad I read it. And of course, my sincere condolences to the both of you.

    My $0.02… for the bad days “This too shall pass”. It’s from OK Go. It is a straight up pop-culture reference, but sometimes they get it right.

    Stay strong, my friend.

     
    • Michael Dahl 4 April 2018 at 10:25 am

      Rogier:

      I’m glad Laila “made you” read the post and for your two cents. (I love powerful pop-culture references.)

      I’m working to find and internalize my mantras. Not sure what that/they will be yet. However, as I am a transparent guy, the world will likely find out when I do.

      Stay Snazzy!
      Michael

       
  4. Tom Sampson 7 April 2018 at 9:19 pm

    One thing that’s been helpful to me, after 50 years of marriage, is to let my spouse know as soon as possible when I’m troubled. Somehow, getting whatever it is out and getting her perspective makes my problem easier to deal with.

     

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