Resources for understanding hospice and the process of dying

Greetings, all,

About a week ago, my mother began the process of dying and was put into in-home hospice care.  The care worker is very good, and the care being provided is excellent.  Unfortunately, the resources the hospice service has available to help me understand hospice and the physical process of dying is... deficient.  They gave me a booklet that provided the meagerist of information, barely an outline, and was written from a spiritual perspective, going on about how the dying person was transitioning to a new life in a new world, etc.  Nearly useless.  Does any one know of books, websites, whatever that explains hospice and the physical process of dying from a secular or non-spiritual viewpoint?  The hospice care worker offered to answer any questions I may have, but I deal with such things better on my own by reading.  Thanks in advance.


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Leave it to Google, Hunter.  I just did a search on "secular hospice" and got a BUNCH of hits.  You might start there.

Hunter, I am sorry to learn of your mother's condition and the lack of secular help. I was with my mother when she died in a hospital over 30 years ago, with my father's death at my home 22 years ago, with the father of my children when he died in a hospital 7 years, ago, and with my son when he died in a hospital two years ago. A friend asked to have his Celebration of Life in my backyard; it turned out to be well accepted by believing neighbors. 

In each of these events, we had private services in my home with family and friends who talked about their memories of the life of each one. We did a lot of crying and even more laughing and knew the bodies were gone and there was no spirit that survived. In several cases, we had fundamentalist family members with us and they knew each of the deceased wanted secular services and if the religious members did any other or more remembrances I don't know.        

With my father's death, we talked about the violence in our home. Many of my cousins shared their experiences with their violent parents; some of the remembrances were brutal. We discussed the ways we coped as children and how those experiences impacted us. We also talked about the skills of communication, power and control, problem solving, conflict resolution, and negotiation. These are all learned behaviors and training can change the ways we think and act. 

With Cary's death, my daughter wanted a chaplain and we explained to him that almost all of my children were atheist and explained we did not want to hear superstitious references. The chaplain did a wonderful job and I thanked him for his kind and loving words. There was no reference to god or Jesus or resurrection and no heaven or hell. 

I planned either a potluck dinner or had the event catered. 

Before Dad's and Cary's Celebration of Life Memorial at my home, I Googled for information about secular services so that I could consider the options of which I was not aware. I found many sources. I didn't save that information and I am sure you will find ideas online. I also asked my secular friends how they experienced nonreligious services. Everyone expressed how important it was to give people opportunities to cry and/or laugh. So many very special shared memories came forth at our memorial services. 


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