How a hospice patient’s wedding wish came true

Caring for communities

Doris and her fiancé were together for eight years when she became a hospice patient at Enhabit Home Health & Hospice. Doris experienced a lot during her life but there was one thing she had yet to do – marry her fiancé.

“Getting married was the one thing Doris wanted to do once she began receiving hospice care,” Cynthia, a volunteer coordinator at Enhabit, said.

Hospice patient Doris’ story

At 69-years-old, Doris began hospice care. She and her fiancé dreamed of getting married at their local courthouse. But because Doris couldn’t travel easily or walk up the courthouse steps, they were unable to make the trip.

“At first, Doris was very timid and concerned about the quality of the rest of her life,” Lynn, a nurse at Enhabit, said. “She was scared that she was going to die very soon and never be able to get married.”

But the Enhabit team quickly came in and helped ease Doris’ mind. They were able to get her pain under control and lend extra support to increase her quality of life. Soon, Doris would trust the team with the most important day of her life – her wedding.

“Months ago, a local news station ran a story about a wedding shop that donated wedding gowns to first responders and nurses,” Cynthia said. “Whenever I saw the story, I had a feeling that I should remember the name of the shop – and I am so glad that I did.”

Making the wedding happen

Cynthia called the wedding shop and explained Doris’ situation. The next day, she received a call back from the shop owner with great news: they wanted to donate a gown to Doris! Considering Doris couldn’t travel to the shop, the owner took down her measurements. Then, she set out to find the perfect gown.

While Cynthia was the spark that ignited the team to help plan this wedding, their local community came together to help Doris in any way they could. The couple received flower and cake donations from local grocery stores and the Enhabit team made Doris a special bridal tiara for her to wear on her big day.

There were also bubble donations for the couple’s send off and a silk flower keepsake for the two lovebirds to remember their union.

After a week of wedding preparations, the only thing left was the gown.

The wedding shop owner found two gowns that matched Doris’ measurements. An Enhabit chaplain went to the next town over to pick them up. The dress that Doris liked the most ended up fitting her like a glove, needing no alterations.

Hospice patient Doris smiles in her beautiful wedding dress just moments before her wedding.

Wedding for a hospice patient, love for a lifetime

On Feb. 23, 2023, an Enhabit chaplain married Doris and her husband in their home. Close friends, family and Enhabit team members who formed a special bond with Doris surrounded the two on their special day.

Hospice patient Doris and her now husband posing sitting and standing at the altar after getting married.

“She wanted me there to help her get dressed on her wedding day,” Lynn said. “It was a really special moment and she looked absolutely beautiful. I kept telling her she was the most beautiful bride ever. Everyone glows on their wedding day, but with Doris, you could feel her spirit.”

Gone were the days of a timid and scared Doris. Spending all of her life taking care of others around her, she finally had a network of support for herself.

“When we were able to go in and provide support and get her quality of life going and she had her wedding to look forward to, she came alive,” Lynn said. “And although it wore her out at times, planning the wedding brought her so much joy. She finally stood up straight.”

Improved quality of life for hospice patient Doris

Although Doris’ wishes finally came true, she was still facing a life-limiting illness. She had good days and she had bad days. The difference is now she had a strong team of talented clinicians and aides to help her through it all.

“Life is life and you can’t control everything, but we’ve been able to provide her moments of joy and love,” Lynn said. “We rallied around her for support in whatever ways we can and that meant a lot to her because she wasn’t quite ready to go. She wanted to live as long as she possibly can.”

Even on Doris’ bad days, having the memory of her wedding makes her feel a lot better.

“There was a moment after the wedding when Doris was really ill,” Lynn said. “She couldn’t speak because she couldn’t really catch her breath and the only thing she wanted to do was look at the pictures of the wedding on her phone. That meant to world to her to be able to go back through those and remember the day.”

A Better Way to Care®, a better quality of life

Enhabit’s promise to provide A Better Way to Care® was upheld through the effort of each team member. They were able to provide the highest quality of care to Doris and support her every step of the way.

And of course, they also were able to go above and beyond in planning Doris’ wedding. They made her dreams come true.  

“I’ve been in hospice for a while and I’ve never had a team like this,” Lynn said. “It’s a tremendous team that makes a difference and they’re always thinking outside of the box to be able bring to people whatever they need to find solace in their last days – like Doris’ wedding. It was just absolutely beautiful.”

Doris’ limited time didn’t matter to the Enhabit team. They wanted to do whatever they could to make her happy and increase her quality of life.

Whenever Doris had those bad days, she just looked down at her ring or flipped through her photo albums to remember that the Enhabit team made it possible for her and her love to be eternally bonded, no matter what the future held.

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