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The In-Between, Hadley Vlahos

Hadley is a hospice nurse who, in this memoir, takes us through her experiences as being one and the adamant work end-of-life caregivers do. She recounts the most impactful experiences she’s had with the people she’s worked with – from a man seeing visions of his late daughter to a young patient who laments that she spent too much of her short life worrying about what others thought of her.  I know only too well about the wonderful work hospice nurses do for people when they began visiting my stepfather during the last 6 months of his life. They are lifesavers for family. They make death and dying more manageable. Palliative care and those who do the job show that end-of-life care can teach us just as much about how to live as it does about how we die. When hospice enters the picture, patients know this is when they are close to death. 

She experienced what I experienced when being by my stepfather when he died, and what every hospice nurse and person who has witnessed a death has experienced – the tangible shift in the air the moment when a person leaves their body. It’s not unlike when you walk into a room expecting someone to be there, only you discover you’re alone. Sometimes the shift is more pronounced than others, and sometimes the moment occurs before their physical death, while other times it’s after. One similar theme was the fact that many patients declared loved ones being in the room with them, and they’d talk to them periodically. My stepfather did the same thing. He would periodically talk with his dead brother as if he was with him in the room. And I dearly hope he was. We all die physically, but the thought that our loved ones are with us for this journey is something to smile about.


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