A nurse learns a new side to hospice care.

Hope after hospice

As a hospice nurse, Dana Metcalf spent years helping patients and their families. Then sadly, she had to place her own mother in hospice care.

“I have been on both sides of the fence,” says Dana, “and I speak with deep understanding about why our community needs Sentara Hospice House.”

Dana says she rested well each night after leaving her job, knowing that she did everything she could to make the end of life more comfortable for the patient. She brought smiles to her patients’ faces.

She also did the same for the patients’ families.

But while they formed a tight bond, she didn’t often hear back from families after their loved one passed away.

“I never realized how huge the holes in their lives became, or how a heart could hurt so much and for so long,” Dana says. “The quiet in the house is stifling; the random bouts of tears are endless it seems. Everything is a reminder of the love that left when they did. The connection with the past is gone. Our sense of normalcy is gone.” 

Dealing with the “after”  

The reality of not being able to pick up the phone to talk with her mother anymore hit Dana hard. She hurts because she can’t see her mother again.

“My father is dealing with much more,” Dana shares. “My mom was truly his better half and now he is alone. His reality, his sense of purpose, his reason for getting up in the morning is gone. We all try to help but it’s not the same. It never will be. The frustration of not being able to fix it for him is overpowering for me.”

Dana and her family started going to Sentara grief counseling. She has found Chaplain Marsha instrumental in getting her back to work and school.

 My life will never be the same,” Dana says, “but I am functioning again. My dad and I gained some solace in knowing that there were others out there feeling the same as us. Talking to people who are where we are so important.”

She describes Sentara’s grief counseling as an intimate setting with open discussion. Participants talk as little or as much as they want. There is laughter and tears, but most important, comradeship.







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