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Hospice Team Helps Mother and Daughter Deepen their Relationship During Last Months Together 

Holly Rossignol knew the value of hospice long before her mother, Anne Orser, needed end-of-life care.

“Hospice is about getting the most out of the time you have left,” said Holly.

She and her family turned to hospice nearly three decades ago for support in caring for her father, and Holly relied on hospice again when her first husband was terminally ill. She even became a hospice volunteer to give respite to family caregivers.

Her mom, Anne (pictured), had managed well with heart disease for quite some time, but she never fully bounced back after returning home from her last hospital stay. 

“I was so afraid something was going to happen on my watch, and I didn’t know how I was going to handle it,” said Holly.

Anne’s doctor referred them to VNA Care’s hospice program to provide her with care and support at home.

Michel Anne Thorpe, BA, RN, was a “Godsend,” bringing calm to Anne as her condition deteriorated and supporting Holly as she shared her mother’s end-of-life journey. Krysia Burnham, MA, MDiv, hospice chaplain, provided spiritual support for Holly, while Jaya Asthana, MSW, LICSW, helped Holly with long-term care insurance and supportive services and provided counseling.

The entire team also helped Anne and Holly improve their understanding of each other and their relationship.

“Mom and I didn’t always get along that well. I’ve been told it was a typical mother-daughter relationship,” said Holly. “We were at opposite ends of the personality spectrum.”

Holly takes comfort in the day they had a breakthrough while talking to Krysia and Michel Anne.

“It was a pretty emotional moment. I think all four of us were in tears,” said Holly. “There’s a lot of baggage that needs to get unpacked and dealt with before someone can have a gentle crossing. I think that’s one of the reasons my mom held on as long as she did.”

Anne had been on hospice for almost one year. When her final hours drew near in December 2020, each of her three children had the chance to say goodbye. She wasn’t able to speak, but Holly could tell that she still heard them.

“I checked in on her, gave her medication, kissed her on the forehead, and said that I loved her. It was a very organic moment, and two hours later she was gone. All of the stars aligned so she could have a peaceful crossing,” said Holly.

She remembered telling her mother to send her a sign that she “made it to the other side” and that she was alright even though Anne didn’t believe in such things. The morning after Anne passed away, Holly saw two cardinals, her mom’s favorite type of bird, outside the kitchen window. When the male cardinal flew away, the female cardinal followed.

Holly said, “I just knew that mom was OK, and that she was with my dad.”

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