I am continuing on this theme of Mom’s transition.  As you know, when someone close to you dies, the grief and sadness is overwhelming. And the extraordinary experiences begin.  We all have stories.  If you haven’t had these experiences, watch for them next time.

My brother and I are sitting with Mom. He is on a face time app. You can read that on my blog.

So, Mom breathes her last and the inevitable happens. The grief flows. After a pause, I was able to check the time as hospice will accept our stated time. It is 12:41 pm.

Emotions flow in waves. It happens with all emotions: joy, happiness, anger, sadness, depression. Emotions will start, ramp up, peak, and ebb away.  This is a handy piece of information. If you are ever in a situation that emotions seem to be overpowering you, remember to pause, hold up on a reaction, because they will ebb away. Some have longer cycle’s like depression, but they all cycle. A point to remember, not to do anything you might regret at the peak of an emotion.

We all had a little ebb in the great grief. My brother-in-law decided to call hospice which was appropriate. Probably could have waited a bit but decided to call.  Hospice had given us a book with all the need to know information helping us on this journey. The admitting nurse had written two numbers on the cover. The top number was the hospice number and the bottom number to lift assist. They were written in magic marker, in not very large writing.  We had called lift assist a few days before to help us get mom back into bed as she couldn’t stand.

Our hospice nurse was on speed dial, but we had to call hospice directly for certain things, including problems at night (off hours), giving morphine and death.  The task of calling hospice fell to my brother-in-law.  He picked up the hospice book and dialed.  He reported mom’s passing and the call taker was asking a plethora of questions that didn’t make any sense. After all, Mom had been a patient with hospice for almost nine months.

We hear sirens, didn’t pay any attention. In a few moments a cadre of 7 policemen entered the condo. The one in charge came into the bedroom where mom had died and told us to leave the room immediately as this was a “CRIME SCENE!”

Talk about confusion. I’m thinking “what are you doing here?”  My sister was hysterically crying and could not move.  My niece had the chutzpah to stand up to the officer and question his presence. It wasn’t pretty for a few moments, emotions and confusion running very high. I announced this was hospice and went and got the DNR (do not resuscitate order from the doctor).  The officer was not moving and declaring that we had to leave the room which we weren’t going to oblige. 

I didn’t know what had happened in the beginning, and my brother-in-law realized that he had dial lift assist rather than hospice. When you call lift assist, it is calling 911.  They were treating this call as an unattended death. Let’s be clear, it was not an unattended death as she was a patient of hospice. A peaceful death at home was the expected outcome. I didn’t know if we had initiated a process that we could not change. The police officer, who was trying to be nice while insisting that we leave the room was not hearing that this was a hospice situation that he walked into.

I said our hospice nurse was on speed dial. I’m not kidding. My niece made multiple calls until she reached her.  The nurse was busy with another patient and had to leave to help us. She traveled at light speed to come.

As luck would have it, EMT’s came. They have authority over police for health issues and the officer stepped aside. The astute paramedic slowly retrieved his monitor and EKG machine. He slowly applied leads to Mom’s arms and legs and ran a heart rhythm strip which came up as the expected straight line (no heartbeat).  His time was 12:53 pm.  This gave us enough time for the hospice nurse to arrive and talk to the police officer who was just doing his job. Yes, they could leave as this was not a crime scene, and we could relax a bit. 

The grief was flowing and might have impaired us. But… in retrospect, a great interruption occurred, and we had some humorous relief. And we have a story to talk about for years to come.

Once the dust settled, my niece said: “you sent me seven handsome men in uniform, well played, Grandma!” 

The grief still ebbs and flows which it will for some time to come.

As an aside, the officer’s wife worked for hospice. It was interesting that he couldn’t understand he had just walked into a hospice home. Another interesting thing happened a few days after mom’s death. That officer was called to another hospice death in our neighborhood. He had the opportunity to play that differently.  You see, there are lessons for all of us and it is really ok. 

I have a suggestion for the hospice workflow.  Put these important numbers on different colored stickers. One large for hospice number and a smaller one for lift assist. It woud be better to see when clouded by emotions.

I have many, many thank you’s for hospice staff, nurse, social worker, Chaplin and volunteer were awesome.