Sunday, October 4, 2009

Confessions of a Hospice Nurse

For those of you looking for kid stories, I hope you're not disappointed. I feel a higher calling to divert this week into more grown-up philosophies...a story of divine appointments and omnipotent inside look into the experience of a hospice nurse. This is about my friend Phyllis, who met Jesus face to face this weekend.

My path crossed with Phyllis a little over three years ago, when I was asked to give my testimony at our church's women's retreat. In exposing my secrets and telling the story of our adoption (ask me sometime, if you don't know the story), and women across the room were weeping, one woman in particular was sobbing uncontrollably. After the "afterglow" time of praise, prayer, and healing, I was introduced to Phyllis and informed that she too had been adopted, and had struggled to reconnect with her birth mother, only to discover she had passed some years earlier. AND that Phyllis's birthday was the same as the one I had given birth too. (Coincidence? I think not.) Phyllis then shared with me that my vulnerable sharing had given her a better understanding of what her birth mother had been through, and answered many questions she had never had the opportunity to ask her.

Fast-forward to the present day, when it was becoming clear that Phyllis not only had cancer for the umpteenth time, but it was going to win. I was placed in numerous divine appointments, several incidental meetings with Phyllis's friends or family who, knowing I was a hospice nurse, would ask me "When should she be on hospice? What can we expect? Are we making the right decisions?" (Coincidence? I think not.) Each time, each encounter, each person expressed such great relief after talking with me, and felt they had more information and confidence to face the challenges ahead.

When the day rather quickly came that Phyllis was signing onto hospice, all the other nurses were busy and I was the only option. (More coincidence? I think not.) When I arrived, a pastor friend was visiting and we all got to pray together. I never get to pray with my patients! It was so refreshing for me! Phyllis was having difficulty with her memory, but recognized me instantly, and smiled relief at a familiar face. Two weeks later, when Phyllis was in her final days, again a visit was needed and I was the only nurse available. (Really, I hardly ever see patients any more due to my supervisor responsibilities. Coincidence? Say it with me, I think not.) She very clearly said "I'm ready to go to Jesus, I want to go now." So I told her how to die...that it's just like sleeping, the harder you try, the more it doesn't happen, but only when you let go of that control, do you allow yourself to slip away.

Phyllis did die that very night, and her family reported that an amazing thing happened right before she passed. She rolled over without assistance (something she had been unable to do), informed them that Jesus was there to take her home, and then spent the next two hours talking to Jesus as if He was right there in the room. And I believe with my whole heart that He was. When she finished, she breathed her last, and went with Him to eternal bliss.

So what's the confession, you ask? People may think that hospice nurses are such a blessing to others. But our secret is that we actually receive back abundant blessing, hope, love, and peace just by being invited to participate in someone's passing from this world into the next. Thank you, to Phyllis and her family, for allowing me to be a part of this spiritual event. I look forward to seeing you again!


  1. What a beautiful story! Thanks for sharing it.

  2. Wow, goosebumps all over! Phyllis was a wonderful woman and I'm glad you had such a bond with her! I'm sure it was such a relief for her to see your shining face! It's amazing how He uses such things to bless us, isn't it? ;o)

  3. cool Jill. I remember when you were nervous about sharing your story all those years ago - I never heard how it turned out. Sounds like it was an amazing gift and that God really used you. So glad you are in hospice - a perfect fit!

  4. Thank you Jill, for sharing.