On the day my mother died, my sister went to visit her in the early afternoon. At that time she was struggling with breathing and her eyes had turned glassy (Incidentally, I think glassy eyes is really a bad way to phrase it, but that is the way all the "death" literature expresses it. I think cloudy would be a better term, or perhaps milky. Either way, I found a picture on Flickr of a dying deer that is pretty close to what I saw with my mom.) Eyes like that are a sign of imminent death.
My sister was startled and concerned about what she saw and when she asked the hospice nurse what was happening and how long our mother would suffer like that the nurse gave the platitude, "All in God's time."
Well yes, of course everything is in God's time. But God was clearly telling a trained death professional that God's time was very, very close.
When I arrived about an hour before my mother's death, no one from hospice was there. The every loyal nursing home staff was there though, and they did make sure I saw the big change in my mother's status, but they looked as concerned as I was about what was happening and whether or not this meant death was near.
So after a year of thinking about it, I think this is what angered me so much about the hospice.
1. They weren't there. At the last final hours, minutes and seconds, they weren't even in the building. I thought that's what they were there for - care of the dying who were actually...dying!
2. Their directions around the time of death were not helpful.
3. They sure managed to nag me about contacting Medicare on their behalf. Something about they had to hear from my that mom was retired at the time of her death so that they could get paid. I still can't figure that one out.
So today, in honor of mom, one year later in a calmer state of mine, I called the hospice and talked to the nursing director. I explained all of the research I had done and that in my opinion, the hospice nurse should have told my sister that death was imminent and that we should make plans accordingly. She also should have stayed to make sure my mom had the oxygen that was available to her in the room (I ended up doing that when I came in) and she should have given us both a little guidance and maybe a little dialogue about what we were witnessing. The director was very nice. She asked me some questions and we talked and she told me that she would use what I had told her to help "educate" her staff.
I feel comforted in that. It it ends up helping another family, that would be what mama wanted.
I also mentioned to her that we had not been warned about the strong smell after mom died and the nursing director was surprised to hear that as she had never experienced that herself. I'll have to research that more. That may be something unique to ovarian cancer deaths.