Dealing with death - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Dealing with death

Sunny Massad Sunny Massad

By Paul Drewes - bio | email

KALIHI (KHNL) - Its not an issue many of us think about everyday. But for families of terminally ill patients, it is something they struggle with on a regular basis.

A person's final months, weeks or even days. Death is a scary thought, even for those not facing a terminal illness. But there is an island group whose job it is to help people deal with death. And while it may seem strange, they help the dying live to their fullest.

Looking at pictures reminds Sunny Massad of happy memories with her mom. Even though the smiling shots were taken when her mother Lorraine was dying.

They're smiling because they were going through it together, with the help of Hospice Hawaii. "She and I both made the decision she would rather have a graceful death, rather than fighting for life in hospitals," said Massad.

Its a decision thousands of Hawaii families will also have to make, this and every year. For Lorraine, the switch to hospice, not only changed her medical care but also her outlook on life.

"We focus on quality of life because time of life is limited," said Hospice Hawaii nurse, Joy Griffith.

Sunny says her mom enjoyed her time left, spending it with family and her new hospice friends. "She never had quality of life concerns, or security issues when she was with Hospice. She felt safe and in good hands, loved and cared for," added Massad.

But Hospice Hawaii did more than just comfort Lorraine, it also helped Sunny with the greatest struggle of her life. "When I approached Hospice, I was exhausted, burned out and at the end of my rope."

"Our client is not just the patient with the terminal illness but also the entire family," said Griffith. After being diagnosed with terminal cancer, Lorraine lived another 2 and half years.

Giving this family, the time to prepare for her death. But even more importantly, the time to make new memories that will stay with Sunny, now that her mom is gone. "Those were the best years of my mothers and mine life. Squeezing the juice out of every day because tomorrow she may not be here."

Funding for hospice comes mainly from medicare, so there is no out of pocket charge to the families for the nurses, their services and equipment. If you would like to learn more about Hospice Hawaii, go to their website at or give them a call at 924-9255.

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