4 Ways to Reach Out to Families During Hospice Stays

 Hospice Care

The last few weeks of last year and the first week of this year were spent with my dad in hospice. He had a diagnosis that he would not never recover from- Cancer- It finally won and we lost him on January 5th. But during the time he was at Hospice I wondered to myself do people really know what to do for families with loved ones in hospice care. If you are unaware of what Hospice care, it is end-of-life care. The goal of the care is to help people who are dying have peace, comfort, and dignity.

 After a few weeks of wrestling with this post, I decided to write it. If this posts helps to comfort one family than I have done the job that I set out to do. Please remember that the most important thing when visiting a hospice is to be respectful of the others that are there and to be aware that you might not be able to visit the patient be you can still be there for the family. The first week my dad was in hospice, he loved visitors. But as the end became closer, visitors were restricted to just immediate family and my dad’s pastor. In fact my mom, my sisters and the two oldest grandchildren surrounded my dad in his last moments as he slowly slipped away from us and went to eat ice cream with my beautiful sister Karen who we also lost to cancer almost 20 years ago. So the point of this post is to inform you if you are ever in the situation of knowing someone in hospice care what you can do for the family and the patient. Here are four things that meant so much for my family that I wanted to share.

 Finished Chicken Tortilla Bake

  • Bring food. Although we didn’t have much of an appetite we still needed to eat. It was one less thing that we had to worry about and we did not have to worry about leaving my dad to send someone out to get meals. Most hospice facilities have dining and family rooms for families to sit together and eat. One of the sweetest things was when a friend from about an hour away brought us food and sat with us the first night my dad was admitted to the hospice center. This friend was someone who I had went to high school with and she knew firsthand the toil cancer can take. We were also blessed by having neighbors and members of the Veterans Organization that my dad belonged to bring us dinner as well.


  • Visit. Even if the patient isn’t accepting visitors you can still be there for the family. The best thing for us is when friends and family would stop by and visit occupying our time and making sure that we were okay. All the visitors really warmed our hearts and showed us how well loved my dad was and how well thought of he was in the community. Even if you haven’t spoken to the family in years you can still be there for from them. One of my high school friends that I had just reconnected with came to visit all the way from Belize. Well not really because she was visiting family in our hometown but she still came to visit. Another visit that meant a lot to me personally was from a friend who we dearly love and who has seen my girls grow up and they called her Grandma Carol. That visit and the visit at the funeral home meant more to me than she probably knows. Also I would be remiss if I did not mention all of my dad’s Marine Corps League buddies.


  • Pray. Be there to pray and sit with the family. Even though it is a sad time for the family, knowing that someone is there for them to help support them and pray with them is somehow a comfort.


  • Lastly, just be there. (No matter what just your presence will mean a lot to the family.) And don’t ask if there anything I can do for you, just do something, I promise you that your kindness will not go unnoticed.


Although these 4 things may not seem like a lot these gestures will go a long way with the family. I know it went a long way with mine.

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  1. I am so sorry for the loss of your dad and sister. Even though you lost her so long ago I bet you still think of her. This is a great post! I have had friends with family in hospice and I was unsure of how to help. I love the tips. I am glad you ended up writing the post

  2. I’m so sorry to hear about your dad…but I love the mental picture of him eating ice cream with your sister! These are great points – the bring food one is something I do a lot!

  3. I am so very sorry for your loss. We lost my mom to OvArian cancer four years ago, and were blessed with wonderful hospice nurses during her last days. I can agree that even when my Mom wasn’t up to seeing visitors, just knowing they were there was a blessing to her and having the support for the family was a godsend.

  4. So sorry for your loss. Watching a loved one get weaker is very hard. How nice of your friend to have brought you and your family food. That was so thoughtful.

  5. I am sorry to hear about your Dad. I remember after my Dad passed away food was being brought continuously to our home. It definitely was appreciated as was the very fact that people cared enough to just be there.

  6. I am sorry for the loss of your dad and sister – it seems this stays with us forever – And, I’ve not had anyone in Hospice – but will remember what you have shared here – thank you – big hugs 🙂

  7. My condolences for the loss of your father. I know it’s a very difficult situation and I wish you all the strength. I am taking all your suggestions to heart and will ensure that I can do the utmost for family and friends in a rough situation.

  8. So sorry for your loss. This is such needed information though and I appreciate your willingness to be vulnerable and put this out there! Love and blessings to you and your family!

  9. My daughter has a mom whose mom is in hospice and I simply offered to take her kids and carpool them where they needed to go. I am sure anything helps that will alleviate stress.

  10. This is a really great article. A friend of mine has her mom in Hospice and shes finding it very difficult. So sorry for your loss!

  11. My husband is a hospice volunteer and these are all really important tips. I’m so sorry about the loss of your dad and your sister.

  12. Hospice was so good to my grandfather, and then to my grandmother too. I like your tips, and I agree, you don’t have to ask to be nice… just do something nice. That’s a good one.

  13. So sorry for your loss and my thoughts are with you and your family. I appreciate your advice on how to offer support to others particularly where you said “And don’t ask if there anything I can do for you, just do something.” Most people will respond with not needing any assistance when asked in a time like this because they really don’t know what they need or they are overwhelmed. It is best to just do what you see needs being done.

  14. I work in a long term care facility. Families can use the extra help when their loved one is at home. Being a caregiver is so hard that each volunteer can make a huge difference in someones life.

  15. Oh this is heartbreaking. I’m so sorry for your loss, I am sure this will help others.

  16. That is such a hard thing to deal with. But you can definitely help out people in need.

  17. Thank you for sharing these tips with your readers. I haven’t been to a hospice
    or visited anyone who is in a hospice, so I really appreciated your article. Thanks again.

  18. I just came from a visit with my grandpa who has liver cancer. He had a successful surgery but is having a hard recovery. It is so hard watching someone go through that.
    Thepe are great tips. I love knowing people are prAying for my grandpgrandpa and when they take a moment to ask how he Is doing.

  19. Great advice. My father was in hospice less than a month ago and then passed away. What a difficult time to see a loved one have to go through this.

  20. Sorry for your loss. Great advice. When my grandma died, she was in hospice for a month only. Sadly I was abroad, so could not visit.

  21. I am so very sorry you lost your father. I’m glad you shared this to help people know what to do. So many want to be supportive, but are at a loss on exactly how.

  22. I am so sorry for your loss & the pain you go through. I can understand how difficult it is to come out of the loss of our loved ones. These are very important points for neighbors & friends to note. Visiting them & bringing food helps a lot to make sure they know they have people to care. And Prayer plays a major role finally for sure.

  23. Such a great post. I am very sorry for the loss of your dad and your sister. I hope they are having a lot of smiles in Heaven right now looking down on the rest of the family.

    Hospice is difficult. Death is difficult. Even if you think you are ready for it and you know it is coming. People are healers. They want to fix. The don’t understand that just being there is enough.

    This post put that into words so nicely.

  24. I am so sorry for your loss. Some of the points you mentioned are so helpful. Thanks for reminding the rest of us about not asking “is there something we can do”, instead to just do it.

  25. My mom has been really sick for a very long time and refuses hospice, but when she is having a bad day, we bring her food. That way no one has to worry about cooking.

  26. Thanks for sharing on a difficult subject. Hospice is hard, and I know that a lot of people simply have no clue how to help the family in need. You gave some great options. So very sorry for the loss of your dad.

  27. I am really sorry about your loss. My father was in hospice last month for a short time and passed away. Hugs sweetie, I know it’s hard.

  28. I am sorry for all you have went through. You are so right about just being there when needed.

  29. So sorry for the loss of your dear & beloved father. Losing a loved on is so heart wrenching. When my grandmother was passing, we had hospice come to her home. They were amazing!

  30. Loving a loved one can be difficult. I lost my dad and I’m losing my mother. Visits and prayers are always on the top of my list.

  31. This is definitely a hard topic to think about. I do know that food and prayers work. Thank you.

  32. I am so sorry to hear about your father. I have so much experience with hospice it is unreal. All of these tips are great for families facing hospice. Great article.

  33. Thank you for this, it is so needed. Having never been in that situation before, I never know what is most wanted or appreciated, so I too often end up doing nothing or just praying (that’s not nothing for sure, there is nothing MORE powerful!!) but it’s nice to have some tangible tips to execute. #homemattersparty

  34. I really loved these ideas to be able to reach out to your hospice with your loved on a lot easier and even more frequently. One thing that I liked in the middle of the article was bringing food to the hospice to make a nice gesture that you really still care about your loved one and think about them each day. Are they able to bring those casseroles into the hospice and save them in a refrigerator somewhere?

  35. Anytime someone is struggling, whether they are in hospice care or something else, just being there for them means a lot. The advice to bring food is also really important, and I appreciated the point that it is nice to stay and eat with the family. Thanks for the list of 4 ways to reach out.

  36. Adoring a friend or family member can be troublesome. I lost my father and I’m losing my mom. Visits and supplications are dependably on the highest priority on my rundown.

  37. I love your tip about stopping by and checking on the family to make sure they’re okay. My parents are now looking to find a hospice for my grandmother. I’m sure they’d also appreciate friends and family stopping in to check on them. I’m glad that there are facilities that can help out in this stage of peoples lives.

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