A Helping Hand from One Seasons Family To Another03 Aug 2017, Posted by Community in
About six months ago, we at Seasons Hospice & Palliative Care of Maryland welcomed a very special patient into our family. We were totally unaware that the legacy we helped him leave for his family would touch the lives of people he never even met.
George Wilhelm was 77 years old and enduring the effects of end-stage congestive heart failure when he started his stay with us at our Franklin Square Inpatient Center in Maryland.
Our staff diligently watched over George, and his warm and cozy room was never empty. His family and friends were soaking up every minute they had with him. Since they were making special trips to come visit him, we made sure to make his stay with us feel even more like home by nestling him in a soft, fuzzy blanket made by a volunteer.
“I had the opportunity to talk to his wife, Carolyn, and she said he loved the comfort it brought him, and that it really did remind him of home. I told her about the sensory component of the soft, felt, material used by the volunteer and how it’s intentionally used because of how comforting it can be,” said Sara Groves, a Seasons bereavement intern.
George was with us for just three days before his symptoms lessened to the point where we could send him home to spend more time with his family. However, in about a week’s time, he came back for another stay at our inpatient center. George’s CHF was causing him to be extremely short of breath and increasingly weak. It was evident he had just days to live.
Knowing time was almost up, George’s three daughters wanted to create something so their children would have a reminder of their grandfather’s love. With this in mind, the IPU staff worked together to create a plaster mold of his hand, which his grandkids then decorated at his bedside.
That night, George died peacefully in his sleep, surrounded by those he loved the most.
The memory of George’s last few days stayed with the Wilhelm family, and touched them so much they wanted to help recreate it for others whom Seasons is honored to be able to care for. With money donated by one of their employers, the Wilhelm’s purchased fuzzy blankets and many more kits to make hand molds.
As it happens, the day their donation was dropped off at our Franklin Square unit, a thirty-nine-year-old mother of three was nearing the final days of her life. Aisha had liver failure and came to us while on a ventilator.
It was a stressful and scary time for her young children, who were staying with their godmother as Aisha’s husband was also facing health issues. But that day was going to be especially hard to endure, as it was the day that Aisha’s ventilator would be removed. Her children woke up that day knowing that their mother would soon take her last breath.
To ease their pain and help them create one last memory with their mother, social worker Margot Allen took one of those kits that had just been donated and made an imprint of Aisha’s hand. The three children decorated it together, and then RN Laura Brown took a photo of each child holding Aisha’s hand.
“It was the perfect way to help the children say goodbye to their mother. Now, whenever they’re feeling lonely or sad, they can ‘hold her hand.’ While they don’t have their mother here on Earth, they have happy memories of their last moments with her, and something they can look at every day and see her,” said Allen.
Thanks to the thoughtful actions of the Seasons staff six months ago, two families could have a positive end of life experience with their loved one and now have memories to last a lifetime.