It is so hard these days to stay connected to loved ones in your family. During the time when someone is under hospice care, it is often the time when people seek to reconnect or become even closer to their loved ones. They want to make the most of every moment they have, savor every memory and cherish every word spoken.
How is that possible when family is often spread thinly over the country and sometimes even over the world? There’s the old-fashioned way of writing letters if the patient is able or if someone can scribe for them. It’s nice to have a collection of these writings to keep forever. There are also many, many multimedia options. Email, texting, websites, blogs, electronic photo albums and a host of social networking options are all useful tools to stay connected with family and friends.
Email, texting and most social media (i.e., Facebook, Twitter, etc.) are good for spontaneous communications with loved ones. You can communicate individually or you can set up groups to communicate with many people at one time. Online photo albums are good for visually connecting to groups of people, but there’s not much written content involved.
A really great way to keep anyone connected is by setting up a personal website. This might seem overwhelming, but it can be accomplished in a matter of minutes. There is a site called Hospice Journey (www.hospicejourney.org) that can help you accomplish this in a matter of minutes. It can be the central location for information dissemination. You can post as often as you want and anyone can check the content of the website any time they like whether they live in the same town, the next state, across the country or on the other side of the world.
The great thing about a website is that people can post messages of love and support to the patient from any location at any time of the day or night. Of course, photos can be posted and videos too. It’s also a great place to share stories with each other. A website can be a place to solicit and organize volunteers to help with daily chores or just to sit and read to the patient for a while. Your family and friends want to help even if it is just to give you a little time to take a break.
Keep it simple and find the correct mechanism to suit your specific needs. If communicating becomes too much of a burden for you, find someone else to do it. Choose someone to manage the information going out and coming in who has the time and is willing to help out. This might be a good way to get an older son or daughter involved in the process of helping.
However you choose to stay connected or reconnect with family and friends during this precious time, just make sure you honor the wishes of your loved one. Your hospice group can help you define boundaries for doing this. For instance, if they do not wish to have pictures posted of themselves, respect their decision. If there are things about their condition they do not wish to share, respect that as well. Be positive and upbeat and focus on a the wonderful life of your loved one, their family and their friends.