1. Windham, Ellen Jane LPN, BAAS

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Think about the acronym, CEEU, which stand for compassion, empathy, education, and uniqueness. If you embrace these qualities, we need you in hospice. From its inception in 1974, hospice has grown to over 5,800 hospice agencies providing care to terminally ill patients and their families. Through misunderstanding and lack of education, some people think of hospice as a program that "kills" patients. For this reason, among many in the United States and the world, there is a stigma attached to the word hospice. If people truly think hospice kills patients, I can understand their fear. This fear, felt by many patients and loved ones, can result in pain, suffering, and isolation at end of life for the person diagnosed with a terminal illness. Hospice care is a tremendous opportunity to live the remainder of your life with symptoms controlled, in the comfort of their own home, surrounded by family and friends. What are the meanings of the four important words imbedded in CEEU? The online dictionary Merriam-Webster (n.d.) defines these important words this way:


Compassion: a feeling, a sympathetic consciousness of having the desire to help someone who is sick, hungry, or in some kind of suffering.


Empathy: action taken of understanding and being aware of, being sensitive to, and vicariously experiencing the feelings, thoughts, and experience of another of either the past or present without having the feelings, thoughts, and experience fully communicated in an objectively explicit manner.


Education: the knowledge and development resulting from an educational process.


Uniqueness: being the only one, very special, unlike anyone or anything in the world.


The first hospice in the United States began in 1974. This was 42 years ago. Why do people continue to be afraid of hospice? There are far too many people who do not benefit from the services of hospice care in their final days. The one thing I would like to address most is the lack of education that results in misunderstanding of what hospice is about. When I meet with patients and their loved ones, my focus is on education. The family may have many questions they are afraid to ask. It's not enough to hand out pamphlets and expect them to read. They are overwhelmed and can barely breathe, let alone read. They need answers for questions they don't know how to ask.


Being a member of the hospice team is a significant responsibility. The medications we administer for comfort in hospice can cause the patient to go into a deep sleep thereby having the appearance of hospice services causing death. The goal of hospice is not to hasten death but to assist the patient to have a peaceful death. While educating patients and loved ones, I explain that the medication is for the purpose of controlling symptoms, not hastening death.


It is important to make certain families and friends an integral part of a peaceful death. The gift can come in the form of witnessing a smile, a squeeze of the hand, or a last whisper of "I love you." Allowing families to witness the serene grace of dying surrounded by family and loved ones will be passed to future generations. The journey we take in this life is unique, and every individual's journey is different. Death is unique to each individual as well. Death is a time of great sadness but it is also a time to celebrate the individual's life with family and friends.




Merriam-Webster Dictionary. (n.d.). Compassion. Retrieved from


Merriam-Webster Dictionary. (n.d.). Education. Retrieved from


Merriam-Webster Dictionary. (n.d.). Empathy. Retrieved from


Merriam-Webster Dictionary. (n.d.). Unique. Retrieved from