Hospice care, in its broadest sense, includes care of the patient and family prior to the time of death, at the time of death of the patient, and care of the family during the period of bereavement. Because hospice care includes attention to the many areas of need that can be present during this time of stress, it is common for hospice staff to discuss the need for spiritual support and to inquire into the patient and family interests regarding funeral services.
There is no standard hospice approach toward the funeral or funeral practices because of varying attitudes toward immediate post-death activities. Yet most hospice programs recognize the value of funerals and have established communication and working relationships with local funeral directors. The National Hospice Organization and its standards document recognizes the significant role of the funeral director in collaborating with the hospice team at the time of death.
Through direct contact with funeral service, pre-arranged and pre-planned funerals of hospice patients have increased. In addition, arrangements have been made less emotionally stressful and more meaningful for families. Hospice care, by itself, does not exert any marked changes of interest in funeral customs among bereaved persons. But, at the same time, hundreds of hospice programs in all areas of the country work with families who will be faced with the question of what to do about the funeral and disposition of the person of whom they loved and helped care. Through hospice care, they have time and support in which to consider their options for a funeral or an alternative and the involvement of family and friends in whatever is decided upon.
Many family members who will plan these post-death activities will have been involved in providing physical care during the last days of life of the deceased. This is a return to a role that was once common for family members. Yet so many other elements have changed in our society, culture and economics that it is impossible to offer firm speculation about trends that may become apparent in the years to follow.
When you are ready to discuss celebrating your loved one's life or planning a tribute, we encourage you to come in and speak with a Hillier Celebrant who can best honor your loved one or contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.