How Hospice Saved My Life
Frances Dunn Buckley,
R.N. and Fellow at The Connecticut Hospice had every mother’s
dream. Her son was an all-star perfect son; captain of the soccer
team, captain of the track team, going to St. Joseph University
in Philadelphia on a scholarship. Always respectful and kind,
a true pleasure to be around.
Buckley also had every mother’s nightmare become reality
when the phone rang in September 2005. Her son had been killed
in a motorcycle accident.
“Shane was my life and when he died I died,” lamented
Frances. “If not for the people here at Connecticut Hospice
I’d be dead. Everyone here is the most caring individual
and they helped me get through the hardest part of my life. Hospice
saved my life.”
Coming back to work after his services at the Chapel of St. Joseph-Michael
J. Smith, S.J., Memorial was very difficult.
“I didn’t know if I could do it,” Frances said.
“I don’t think it was more than two weeks after his
services before I came back to Hospice. I was welcomed with open
arms. Everyone from housekeeping to the executive level has been
so kind and so patient. They’ve hugged me when I needed
open arms and given me space when I’ve needed that.”
“She has demonstrated courage and the will to carry on in
times of private tragedy and in the sorrow we as hospice nurses
encounter on every shift,” said Marianne Treantafilos, BSN,
Chairperson of the Fellowship Committee and Co-Director of Nursing
and Education. “Her compassion runs deep: she has a true
empathetic nature, matched only by her wry sense of humor. She
has been an inspiration for all of us, reminding us that life
truly needs to be lived in the moment and experienced fully, from
the depths of pain to the heights of joy and wonder.”
Coming back to Hospice also gave Frances a new perspective and
“The thing about Shane was his death was very quick. The
people here are sick and have been sick for a long time and its
different. I can help people here and their families at the hardest
part of their lives. Coming back here was the best thing I could
However, now Frances Buckley is leaving us for a new frontier,
she is moving to Alaska to work as a homecare nurse case manager,
one of five, covering 58 outlying Eskimo villages 400 miles from
the Russian border.
“I’ll miss everyone here at Hospice, but I need to
move on,” Frances said.
“I am going to go out and take the heart and principles
of Hospice with me.”
Not only that, but she will also be taking with her the years
of experience as a nurse and the extensive training as the first
Hospice Fellow to come from our International Fellowship in Hospice
and Palliative Care Nursing. This will certify her as a hospice
and palliative care nurse giving her specific training in caring
for the patient and family and managing their physical, emotional
and spiritual pain during the hardest part of life.
“Through her participation in the Fellowship and in her
everyday practice, she has become a very skillful and insightful
hospice nurse, with a sound knowledge of symptom management and
the critical thinking skills to offer the best of care to our
very fragile patients and families,” said Marianne.
“Hospice gets back to the way nursing was intended to be,”
“You can get to know the patient and their family. They
become people to you, not just the broken leg in room 203. They
become individuals and so do their families.
“I hope to bring that same spirit of caring for the patient
and the family that I learned here at Hospice to Alaska.”
The other hope is that Fran, as the Connecticut Hospice field
preceptor, will identify nurses in Alaska to become her fellows.
These nurses would then come on a short rotation at the inpatient
hospice and palliative hospital and receive training in our International
Fellowship in Hospice and Palliative Care Nursing.
“Her presence will be missed, and we are in no way ready
to release her to the wilds of Alaska, she is the heart and spirit
of The Connecticut Hospice,” Marianne said.
“Shane always used to say he was afraid one day he would
come home and we would have moved away without him,” Frances
described. “So now we will take him with us and take Hospice