Ladies’ Evening: Hospice Event Honors Loss, Love and Living
What My Hospice means is different to each individual and family we serve. At Life Touch Hospice in Arkansas, it means connecting women coping with the loss of a loved one. As Medicare’s first coordinated care model, we must protect the Medicare Hospice Benefit for these ladies who gain so much from this annual event. In 2013, the Bereavement team at Life Touch Hospice noticed a trend of women isolating themselves after the death of a loved one, which deepened their feelings of loneliness and created a hurdle to moving forward in their grieving process. Sensing these ladies needed something extra, Life Touch launched an annual dinner as an opportunity to care for those women who had lost a loved one in hospice. This is how Tyler Turner with Life Touch describes the event:
Ladies’ Evening was built around the idea that each of these ladies deserved a special night out and that it was our duty to provide that for them. The ironed tablecloths, candles, and fancy dinnerware came out and so did the ladies. The first year saw 40 guests, staff and volunteers dressed up to serve, a delightful comedic performance, a delicious dinner, and a gift for each lady. Most importantly, the women began to talk to each other about their own stories. They began to share about the loss that brought them there, the love they had received, the difficulties of the journey, and life in general. Each table became an organic support group. The entertainment, gifts, food, and service were great, but we saw that the real gift was these women opening up, sharing together and LIVING. Now, five events later and a total of 151 ladies served, the event is stronger than ever. Since its inception, the event has featured a comedian, a tableside violinist, the aptly named Once-a-Year Quartet, the Harbour Family Band, and a local theatre and educational group, Pride Youth Programs. Any woman who has lost a loved one on our services over the past two years is invited and the event is free. Invitees are also encouraged to bring a guest. Whether a patient is on hospice for a year or a day, our care doesn’t end at death. After death, care shifts to focus entirely on the family. The term “intensive care” is not often associated with hospice, especially bereavement, but I always argue that hospice care is intensive care. Our social workers and chaplains are intense and passionate about educating, supporting and loving patients and families. Our doctors, nurses and CNAs are intense about making sure our patients are pain-free, comfortable, and able to thrive under whatever circumstances they face. If you have ever met a hospice professional, you have seen that intensity. It is an ardent, earnest care that supports families long after the death of their loved one.
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