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A Touching Hospice Wedding, Thanks to a Dedicated Hospice Team

By Evalisa McClure, VITAS® Healthcare


One of the underlying considerations for patients and families who choose hospice care for a seriously ill loved one is time—time for comfort, closure and quality of life in the time that remains.

And sometimes, the press of time inspires hospice care teams to go above and beyond their everyday roles to make patients’ and families’ wishes comes true, even if the wish involves a last-minute wedding for a VITAS® Healthcare patient.

It began on a Wednesday, when patient Tracy was admitted to hospice. Later that afternoon, her daughter Jessica approached our social worker, Leigh Ann, with an unusual request: Would it be possible to hold her wedding, originally scheduled two months out, on Sunday, three days away? She wanted her mother to hear her say “I do” to Jacob, her fiancé.

“Trust Me, Honey. We Can Get It Done.”
Leigh Anne, an experienced hospice social worker, knew that Tracy’s health was precarious and that she might not survive until Sunday. She suggested a Friday wedding instead with these reassuring words: “Trust me, honey. We can get it done. It will be a team effort.”

A Team Effort
Within 24 hours and with the full hospice team’s support:

  • Leigh Anne worked until 2 a.m. at home that night, baking a three-tier, buttercream-frosted wedding cake.
  • The nursing caregivers, chaplain and other staff joined forces to hang wedding decorations and crepe paper.
  • A scrumptious wedding buffet was chef-prepared for the family and guests.
  • A registered nurse volunteered her day off to capture touching wedding photos.
  • A local funeral home donated flowers and the county judge waived the three-day waiting period for a marriage license.

On Thursday, with Tracy’s mother as officiant and family members gathered around, Jessica and Jacob sealed their vows with a kiss as Tracy watched from her bed.

“It turned out to be a very nice day,” Leigh Anne says. “There wasn’t a dry eye in the house.”
Tracy died peacefully three days later.

“Without a doubt, this is the most gratifying job you’ll ever have, even in the midst of all this sadness,” says Leigh Anne of her dedication to patients, families and the hospice profession. “When you do something for someone with no expectation that they have to do anything in return, it’s a very gratifying feeling.”

Evalisa McClure is general manager for VITAS Healthcare in Pittsburgh. For more information about end-of-life care services, call the nation’s leading provider at (866) 759-6695 or visit VITAS.com.



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