Liz Douglass: Why I Chose Hospice Work
My mother died at her home with hospice care in 1995, two years after the photo was taken. My father and I were so appreciative of the excellent care she received. There was our hospice nurse who came to the home in the middle of the night to help my mother to breathe more freely. And then there was the smile on my mother’s face as she rubbed the belly of her hospice social worker who was 8 months pregnant. I will always cherish the moments when I helped the hospice caregiver give my mother her last bath. Those moments were sacred and blessed with intimacy and dignity.
Another form of caretaking ministered to my mother during this time was through the modality of music. Continuously throughout her final days, I played a recording titled Rosa Mystica performed by Theresa Schroeder-Sheker. This harp and vocal music was from a repertoire of infirmary music of the Cluny Monks used in the Middle Ages to accompany the religious from this life to the next.
My mother was weak and had no reserve of energy to extend out, but she was able to receive the sacred anointing through this music. As Theresa said: “In these vulnerable moments, the dying person becomes a chalice and is anointed with very specific music, sound or tonal substance. The sole focus is to help the person move towards completion and to unbind them from anything that prevents, impedes or clouds a tranquil passage.”
My mother died with calm and peace. These were the moments that inspired my desire to work in hospice. I specifically chose to work through the ministry of harp music, and I feel privileged to work for such an incredible organization as Casa de la Luz.
By Liz Douglass, Music PractitionerBack to Articles