(a chapter from Telling Ed No! by Cheryl Kerrigan©)

SeperationcontractsmallIn my spare time, I volunteer for a local hospice, where I keep the patients company and run errands for them. When a per­son is in hospice they are treated with respect and honor as they go through the final phase of life.

I decided to relate my hospice work to my recovery by putting Ed in hospice and writing a “separation contract.” I fig­ured this would help me to say good-bye. By having this writ­ten statement, I could show Ed that I meant business about wanting him gone, and at the same time show him respect for all we had been through together.

I sat down at my kitchen table with music playing softly in the background. Feelings of extreme guilt came up as I wrote the words that would move Ed into the next phase—his death. Even though I wanted him gone, I still felt like I was doing something wrong. Nonetheless, I continued writing.

After an hour or so it was completed: Ed was transitioning into hospice, and I was the one putting him there. I was cau­tious but proud that I had taken another stand for myself, my life, and my recovery. Here is what I came up with:

HOSPICE REFERRAL CONTRACT

Patient Name: Ed

Patient Address: Cheryl’s Body and Soul

Patient Diagnosis: Terminal Disorder

This document will serve as a referral contract for the pa­tient named above to be admitted into Life’s a Journey Hospice, a well-respected organization that offers terminally-ill patients comprehensive medical, social, nutritional, and spiritual care.

Ed will be living out the remainder of his days in famil­iar surroundings. Nonetheless, changing ways, an open mind, and a new outlook will be expected. The staff of Life’s a Jour­ney Hospice—Bob, Suzanne, Amy, Daniel, and Cheryl—will show Ed how to depart with dignity, comfort, and peace. They will allow him the freedom to express himself while guiding him through the new boundaries of and around death.

Respect will be shown and given by all parties, and the stages of dying will be acknowledged and dealt with as they appear. The patient will have weekly check-ins to assess his progress, and he will be given the care to see him through this difficult transition. At the end of three months, the patient will be reassessed and modifications, if needed, will be made to his plan.

The staff at Life’s a Journey Hospice is committed to Ed in the quest for end-of-life care.

– Signed by me and my entire treatment team

I gave a copy to Bob and kept a copy for myself. Creating this document was both empowering and sad. But it was effec­tive. Not only did it help prepare me to live without Ed, it also prepared Ed to live without me.

REFLECTIONS

Saying good-bye to Ed is difficult, but necessary for your survival. How would your separation contract read? What would you include? Find a quiet place to write Ed’s termina­tion agreement. Authenticate it with your signature, and have your treatment team sign it. Make it official!

With health, hope and strength,

Cheryl