One of hospice care’s fundamental principles is to provide support not only to patients but also to their families. Until May 20, Mrs. Bachman was the patient in the Bachman family, fighting pancreatic cancer.
On May 21st that all changed and Mrs. Bachman was suddenly to become the family member, and soon a widow. On that day her husband unexpectedly collapsed and was rushed to YNHH where his condition was diagnosed as terminal.
On May 22 Mr. Bachman was referred to Connecticut Hospice. When he arrived at the inpatient facility, unfortunately state visiting policies during COVID-19 could only allow two visitors, his wife and daughter, to be with him in person.
The entire family gathered in front of the Connecticut Hospice facility hoping for a glimpse of the husband, father, father-in-law, grandfather, and great grandfather they hadn’t seen since his collapse, and probably would never see again.
As the ambulance arrived, the family gathered closer to voice how much they loved him and made heart shapes with their hands.
Staff Social Worker Stephanie Albright met with the family outside and realized how close Mr. Bachman was to the end of his life, and how important it was that this family got to see their loved one for one last time. She quickly contacted the nursing staff and coordinated a last-minute window visit.
Mr. Bachman was wheeled down to the window in the lobby, while outside his family stood, choking back tears but smiling with love.
They all raised their hands as one to make an "I Love You" sign, and sent him a final outpouring of love by singing one of his favorite songs to him: “Country Roads,” by John Denver. All the generations of Bachmans singing together to their loved one was amazing and profoundly moving to witness.
Since Mr. Bachman’s death, this large multi-generational family (4 adult children and spouses, 17 grandkids and 2 great grandkids) has come together to support each other in their sorrow, spending many days together working through the unexpected loss and sharing memories, meals, stories and grief.
They have also graciously allowed us to share their Connecticut Hospice experience with you.
This close, loving family has made an impression on our staff, but one member in particular has stood out from his adult relatives, not only because of his age, but for the words he spoke when sharing memories of his “Papa”. 8-year old great-grandson Jayden was asked how he would describe his Papa, and his answers are a testament to the deep connection shared by patients and families, and why treating the patient and family as one is of such importance.
“He put everyone else first, especially GG.”.
“He was kind.” “Papa was always respectful of everyone.”
“I know when he comes to visit it is his soul talking to mine.”
“When I see a heart, I know it is him.”
“I talk to him and tell him I hope he is happy and that I miss him.”
Connecticut Hospice Resources
Read more about the patient and family as one unit of care here Patients and Caregivers
For information on grief support click here: Bereavement Program
On Children and Grief
Hospice Foundation of America: Children and Grief
The Dougy Center/The National Center for Grieving Children and Families: How to Help a Grieving Child
Psychcentral: Children and Grief