Is life really a "journey"? End of life is hardly ever easy, it is painful, confusing and at times it is a relief. Hard to imagine those words in the context of life but for some of us things get so difficult as we seek relief and at times a peaceful end is actually welcomed.
Every journey requires some form of "getting ready" and it is common for us to use travel metaphors for death. However when it comes to destinations, everyone is seeing a different place based on their beliefs, religion, views, upbringing and point in life.
In a perspective, an avid golfer may see his final days as an invitation to play a tournament in a foursome with his father and two brothers, all of whom have passed away. A fire fighter might hurry to his final fire rescue and many resort to reconnecting with the loved ones who have passed away.
Families are often afraid and try to bring the dying back in their thoughts to the reality of this world when in turn the spirit is already somewhere on the path of that final journey. Interestingly, as health care providers we do not fully have an explanations for such hallucinations but the fascinating component is the frequency and how commonly this happens on the final chapter of our journeys.
Notably, we call this "transitioning phase" in hospice care something which is a hybrid stage to physical metaphysical worlds. From the physical perspective, we see changes in brain chemistry that occur closer to ones passing with perhaps a lack of oxygen or high levels of carbon dioxide or changes in nutrition getting to the brain as it commences to shut down and biochemical changes in the brain might very well predispose people to hallucinations. On the metaphysical side of things as people near the end, they view these changes as spiritual moments and are powerful enough to influence the patients, their loved ones and even their care team.
These journeys at times are not easy and for most of us in hospice it's a life-changing profession where we are honored to walk this journey with our patients, their loved ones and with our team as none of our patients are ever truly forgotten. Their memories live in every single one of us and their loved ones. One should never be alone during the final chapter of our journey and hospices job is to make sure that happens.