Hospice wish turns into a lifelong memory

Caring for communities

Since beginning her care journey with Enhabit Home Health & Hospice, Megan and her family have had an experience that exceeded what they thought was possible, going so far as to make her hospice wish a reality.

Megan was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS) 16 years ago. As her disease progressed, Megan’s mother and primary caregiver “Mama Rosie,” has had multiple home health providers help care for Megan. However, neither Megan or Mama Rosie ever had a satisfactory experience with them.

For the past few years, Megan has received care in an inpatient rehabilitation facility. But Mama Rosie felt Megan should receive care in the comfort of home. There, she could also be with her son, who wanted to spend time with his mother as he neared the end of his high school career.

Prior to leaving the rehabilitation facility, Megan received a referral to Enhabit. Here, she and her family could better navigate the end-of-life transition. Since Enhabit has been a part of their lives, Mama Rosie, Megan and Megan’s son all feel they made the right decision. The care Enhabit has given to their family always made them feel comfortable, according to her son.

“They were like extended family to us,” he said.

The Enhabit team that cared for Megan not only went above and beyond in providing her high-quality care, but surpassed the family’s expectations as they helped make Megan’s hospice wish a reality.

“From the branch staff, to the clinicians and chaplains – all of them showed us love,” Mama Rosie said.

Making the impossible possible with the hospice team at Enhabit

For a while, Megan and her family worried that she wouldn’t be able to live long enough to see her son graduate, let alone attend his graduation ceremony.

“The only thing I wanted to do was see my baby graduate and hold his diploma because he is the only child I have,” Megan said.  

Although Megan wanted to attend the ceremony at her son’s high school, Mama Rosie and the Enhabit team knew she was too weak to make the trip.

One of Megan’s hospice nurses shared her story with the rest of the Enhabit team. As a mother herself, Stephanie, a volunteer coordinator at Enhabit, felt empathy towards Megan’s situation. She knew how much her son meant to her. She wanted to do whatever was possible to help Megan see him graduate.

The hospice wish is granted

Within a weekend, Stephanie was able to organize an entire at-home graduation ceremony and create an event that Megan and her loved ones would never forget.

Stephanie reached out to the school guidance counselor. She wanted them to present Megan’s son with his diploma in the presence of one of his biggest supporters – his mom. His school guidance counselor and other school leadership were happy to participate. They knew the concerns that Megan’s son had about his mother’s health.

In addition to her outreach to the school, Stephanie also called on community members to help out in any way they could: A local florist donated a corsage for Megan to wear at the ceremony; the branch’s human resources designee gave Megan a blouse to wear; and a nurse and hospice aide also volunteered their time to do Megan’s makeup.

A few other volunteers from the community and some of Megan’s family members helped decorate Megan’s home and prepare a graduation walkway.

Once they got everything set up, Stephanie and a few volunteers left for lunch. When they returned, cars filled the entire block. Megan’s home was overflowing with extended family, school leadership, coaches and peers all waiting to celebrate this accomplishment.

A graduation cap sits on a coffee table in a living room

Lifelong memories from one hospice wish

It’s safe to say that during the ceremony, there wasn’t a dry eye in the room, according to Stephanie.

“This moment provided reprieve for the family where the focus was not on how sick she was,” she said. “It was like they were able to be in the moment, not in the ‘what is to come.’”

A moment like this that was needed for Megan and her family during this end-of-life transition, giving Megan everything she dreamed of and more.

“It blew my mind because I never had anybody really put something on externally to help my mom and me out,” Megan’s son said. “The smile on my mom’s face was so genuine. You can’t buy that anywhere.”

Megan smiled from ear to ear as she watched her son walk across their home stage and hold his diploma. After receiving his diploma and seeing the support the Enhabit team provided to his mother, Megan’s son also made a commitment to attend college out of state during the event – a dream that he had almost given up because of his mother’s condition.

Megan and her family felt Enhabit’s philosophy of providing a better way to care. They knew that they now had an extended family of skilled clinicians to help them. This simple fact gave Megan’s son the security to attend college and begin his education in electrical engineering.

Life after the at-home graduation

Since the ceremony, Megan and Mama Rosie remain living at their family home with the Enhabit team checking in on them every week. Megan’s son started college last fall and has already come back home to visit his mother and grandmother a few times.

Mama Rosie says the family is still taking this journey day by day, but the graduation ceremony and the people who stepped up to help make it happen, is something that still means so much to them. It was a hospice wish that came true.

“All I can say is I love Enhabit,” she said. “I have adopted them to be my family.”

Megan never thought a company like Enhabit would provide this kind of high-quality care that supported her through every step of her hospice journey. She called her overall experience “way better than expected.”

And for Stephanie, this family has touched her life forever. Although she didn’t know Megan’s son very well, she is sure that this moment will affect him years down the road and potentially even inspire him to advocate for hospice care in the future because she feels it is so impactful.

“Hospice is about more than just the dying,” she said. “It’s more about the living right now.”

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