In hospice, we talk about living our best lives. What does “living your best life” look like to you? For Cottage in the Meadow patient Edith, it was being around to watch her grandson get married.
Grandson Tom was planning to marry Anna (not their real names) in the near future. When Edith was admitted to the Cottage in the Meadow, they moved up their wedding date and decided to surprise Edith by moving the whole wedding to the Cottage.
The ceremony was scheduled for Saturday afternoon, but then Edith took a turn for the worse and her pain became nearly unbearable. By Friday it looked as if Edith wouldn’t survive to Saturday afternoon.
The marriage license was dated for Saturday so the wedding couldn’t legally take place until then.
The pastor scheduled to officiate the wedding couldn’t come any sooner and the couple needed someone fast. That’s when a hospice chaplain was invited to participate. The chaplain met with Tom and Anna and a simple ceremony was planned to take place in Edith’s room at the Cottage. Tom really wanted his grandmother to be a witness to the wedding and to sign the marriage license.
So, in the middle of the night…literally, at 12:00 midnight, the wedding party gathered in Edith’s room. Vows were exchanged, rings were placed, prayers were shared, tears were shed, and the pronouncement of “husband and wife” was made.
And Edith witnessed every moment.
At the end of the ceremony, Edith put on her reading glasses and, with shaking hands, signed the marriage license.
At that point, the Cottage staff could focus on making sure she wasn’t in any pain (for it had been excruciating), and the family could focus on sharing stories and loving on Edith until the moment that she let go and breathed her last.
While there were lots of tears, Edith got her wish – she was able to watch her grandson get married.
Hospice care and services at Cottage in the Meadow aren’t just about life’s end…it’s about really living, just like Edith.