On a recent Wednesday evening a man called the Agape Senior answering service and left a message with the operator stating his wife had recently passed away and wanted to know if our company could use her extra medication. The message was then sent out from the answering service as a text to the person on-call.
Words in a text are devoid of emotion, they are just letters strung together to form simple messages. Sometimes, pain and suffering can be found hidden on the other side of those words and no one would ever know unless a careful listener takes the time to discern a different message.
Dougal Kear, an experienced Senior Community Administrator was on-call the evening Mr. Hall made the call. Shortly after receiving the message, Dougal contacted Mr. Hall to explain that we were not permitted to re-use medications but appreciated him contacting Agape Senior. During the conversation with Mr. Hall, Dougal sensed that there was something else going on, something much deeper. After a few questions were asked, Mr. Hall began to share that he was struggling to cope with the devastating loss of his beautiful wife, Lila, who had been his partner for the last 41 years.
Neither Mr. Hall nor his wife had ever been under any Agape Senior care, but somehow he had the impression he might find the help he was seeking and decided to call. Mr. Hall was suffering in silence and his call was a cry for help. He needed to tell his story and was reaching out for someone to listen.
Dougal immediately contacted our hospice bereavement team and explained Mr. Hall’s situation. Ms. Alma Brown, a chaplain in Spartanburg, contacted Mr. Hall the next day and confirmed the deep sorrow and grief Mr. Hall was suffering. Ms. Alma spent time assuring him that it was “ok not to feel ok” and that he would experience a roller coaster of emotions as he grieved the loss of his best friend.
Ms. Alma was able to visit Mr. Hall at his home in Greenville where he showed her photos and introduced her to his wife’s beloved dog, Godiva. He cried and said he “didn’t even know how to fix the dog’s hair,” revealing to Ms. Alma how he had accidentally pulled the bow so tightly the dog couldn’t even blink! After more tears and some laughter, Ms. Alma prayed with Mr. Hall, and then assured him that she and others at Agape Senior would continue to walk this journey with him.
It was unfortunate that hospice care had not been offered as an option when Mr. Hall's wife was taking her final journey. The support of the complete hospice and bereavement team could have had a huge impact on both Mr. Hall and his wife’s experience as they walked through the end of Lila’s life.
It would be very difficult for any person to fully comprehend the depth of loss Mr. Hall was feeling after losing his bride of 41 years. There are people like Mr. Hall all around us that need to be informed about benefits like hospice; that need to have someone who will choose to take the time to listen; to be there to provide support to help ease the physical and emotional pain loved ones and families are suffering.
Whenever you are dealing with seniors, there are opportunities to listen better and stay alert for the real message behind the words. You never know what someone is going through unless you take the time to stop, ask, and listen. Here at Agape Senior, we care to do just that.
Agape is a faith based organization and a recognized leader in patient centered hospice care, offering extensive services throughout the Midlands region of South Carolina. We are respected for our professional and compassionate care allowing our patients to experience a peaceful death and their families receive the support services they need so they have a special sense of spiritual and emotional peace. Columbia, West Columbia, Lexington, Cayce, Springdale, St Andrews, Pine Ridge, South Congaree, Red Bank, Batesburg Leesville, Irmo, Blythewood, Chapin, Gilbert, Gaston, Swansea, Elgin, Sumter, Camden, Aiken, Orangeburg SC. Call us at 800-411-2427