I had a dream last night. I dreamt I was visiting a facility. There were several women walking through the rooms showing me the beds where people lay. Most people were asleep, some were just beginning to wake up.
The atmosphere of this place was one of immense peace, such gentle caring for the people in the beds.
After my tour I was lead into an eating area. A cozy, friendly atmosphere with workers sitting around the table, food being served. I was invited to sit with them and visit about what I had seen in their place.
As each person was being served they shared words in a language I did not understand. The sound was almost like a song as they spoke. At some point I was served a dish of greens on a clear leaf shaped plate. I said “thank you.” Everyone looked at me expectantly. I said I was sorry I didn’t know what I was supposed to do. My tour guide said I was being asked if I wanted to work there with them. I was thrilled because I was so taken with the beauty, serenity and love the workers had not only for their patients but for each other.
I replied I was unable to work for them full time at this moment as I had “so much on my plate” but I wanted to help as I could., maybe a night shift. They understood.
I woke up gently filled with such wonder. I lay in my bed savoring this exceptional feeling that the dream had left with me and began rethinking, remembering the dream. I realized that in the dream all the patients were dead, peacefully dead, and those that were waking up were waking up from being dead.
It was like a mirror, like being in Alice’s Looking Glass. I was on the other side of death. These lovely workers were assisting, not in end of life, but in the beginning of life.
As I write this I feel tears in the corner of my eyes. We bring so much fear to the end of life experience. If my dream were true then there would be beginning of life “angels” or doulas caring for us as we exit the only life that we are aware of.
I’m guessing this dream was prompted by my visit to Clarehouse in Tulsa Oklahoma this week. I walked through my “dream” End of Life home.
Clarehouse is a not for profit, nondenominational twelve room home (I can’t bring myself to call it a facility--there is so much peace there). It does not charge for its care or services. Families cannot even make a donation while a member is there. Patients are on hospice care that is provided by any of the eighty hospices that operate in the Tulsa area.
Clarehouse is totally funded by the community through a fundraiser and donations. As long as the patient’s condition continues to deteriorate they are able to stay in this wonderful environment--weeks, even months. It is not about symptom control medical needs, but about having a peaceful, caring place to die.
It is my hope that hospices everywhere will look at Clarehouse’s example and begin offering in house services, not based on inpatient reimbursement (which presents many limitations), but on the needs of the patient and family to have a place other than their own home in which to die.
There are other homes like Clarehouse through out the U.S., Kylar Glen and Enso House are two others I am aware of, I am looking for more. We need more. At least one in each city would be a dream come true.