Photos in an old fashioned scrap book

Creating Meaningful Moments in The Final Months of “The Dash”

In 1996, Linda Ellis penned a thought-provoking poem she titled “The Dash.”

The “dash,” as she writes, represents the line between the year of birth and the year that marks our death. The poem encourages the reader to look long and hard at how they are spending their dash, “For you never know how much time is left that can still be rearranged.”

At Hospice of the Piedmont, we have the privilege of caring for people who know how time-limited their own dash might be. At those bedsides, we hear stories from our patients about faithful service to their country, high school loves they have had “their whole life,” cherished family, and faithful friends. It is in those stories that we learn what is most important to the patient and their loved ones. Our care team’s focus is to honor this time and to make sure what is most important remains a priority during the final months of their dash.

For our patients whose dash has included time serving our country, we honor our veterans with gratitude for their service through a “pinning” ceremony. During this time, we hear stories of service, courage, and loved ones who have supported them in their work.

For those who have loved music their whole life, we work to ensure that music can be a part of the end of their dash as well. Through our supportive music programming, we are able to bring that love of music to the bedside and oftentimes rekindle memories of earlier times of their dash.

We also realize there are some patients whose dash includes what others would describe as a life that has been hard. Our care teams, no matter what backgrounds patients might bring, are there to help and support. Our spiritual counselors and social workers alleviate burdens and help to bring peace. Our physicians and nurses work with symptoms of disease to bring comfort. And if needs arise during the late hours, our overnight team is there to respond.

It is through our clinical teams and our generous donors that we can go far and beyond to honor the lives of those we support and care for. “If we treat each other with respect, and more often wear a smile, remembering this special dash might only last a little while.”

Your peace is our purpose – honoring the remarkable dash of those we serve.

~ Nancy Littlefield, DNP, RN
President & CEO

Nancy Littlefield, Hospice of the Piedmont CEO, wears a tan blazer and patterned shirt standing in front of the Hospice House
Nancy Littlefield, DNP, RN