It’s been a little over a year since Marilyn Favreau’s mother, Kathleen Murphy, died from complications of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease. Despite the significance of that loss, Marilyn finds solace in knowing that her mother’s wishes were honored and that the last year of her life was spent at home in Lynn, MA, cared for by family and by Care Dimensions.
Team Murphy poses for their official photo at the 2017 Care Dimensions Walk for Hospice.
Marilyn’s appreciation for Care Dimensions, which is also shared by her extended family, runs so deep that mere months after her mother’s death and days after her memorial service, Marilyn and 32 family members and friends formed “Team Murphy” and participated in the 30th Walk for Hospice to Benefit Care Dimensions in September 2017. They plan to return for the 31st Walk, on September 29.
Introduction to hospice, Care Dimensions
Marilyn and her mother were introduced to Care Dimensions back in 2011. Kathleen had been caring for her husband Lester for almost five years, but when his illness grew significantly worse, Kathleen sought hospice care for him. Nurses from Care Dimensions initially cared for Lester at home, but it quickly became evident that he would need round-the-clock care, and he was moved to Care Dimensions’ Kaplan Family Hospice House. “My mother really connected with the [Care Dimensions> nurses and felt very comfortable with the care my father was receiving,” Marilyn explains. “The Care Dimensions staff really support both the patient and the family through the whole process,” she adds.
While Kathleen’s own health had been declining throughout the time of her husband’s illness, she experienced some improvements after Lester’s passing in February of 2012. She was able to be more involved in the lives of her children and grandchildren and to get out and about more than she had in the past. While her health remained relatively stable for a few years, the effects of her lung disease necessitated a trip to the hospital in 2016. As the emergency department physician discussed the various medical interventions that might provide short-term solutions, Kathleen knew that she wanted hospice care from Care Dimensions.
Honoring choices at end of life
“My mother knew she could do fine with the support of Care Dimensions and that she would die the way she wanted to—without tubes, IVs, or any other artificial means of support,” Marilyn explains. “That’s what she wanted. She didn’t want to keep going into the hospital. She wanted to be in her home and wanted to be comfortable. She was very clear about that.”
Kathleen continued with at-home hospice care provided by Care Dimensions for over a year and looked forward to having nurses and other staff members come to her home.
Towards the very end of her life, when Kathleen was in pain due to a suspected heart attack, she reminded her daughter that she should call Care Dimensions instead of 911. A Care Dimensions nurse quickly came to Kathleen’s home and, as Marilyn describes, “It was like an angel walked in the door. She was gentle and calm and peaceful and caring. She came in the house and everything was OK. She calmed everything down.
“The nurse explained exactly what we could expect in the coming hours and days and staff checked on my mom frequently,” Marilyn adds. On June 25, 2017, Kathleen Murphy died peacefully with her daughter holding her hand.
“Good hospice care can be an extension on living a good life,” says Marilyn. “My mother lived peacefully and happily in her last year. She wasn’t in and out of the hospital. She knew she was dying but that was OK.”
Marilyn Favreau recorded this welcome and thank-you with Team Murphy at the 2017 Care Dimensions Walk for Hospice:
Grateful for support from Care Dimensions
The loss of Kathleen Murphy is still keenly felt, especially by her children and grandchildren. Care Dimensions’ grief counseling has been a source of strength for Marilyn and her family. Care Dimensions even offers groups sessions for families about to go through the holidays for the first time without their loved ones. “My daughter and I went to one of those group sessions and it was incredibly helpful for both of us,” Marilyn explains.
Kathleen Murphy did not want a wake nor a funeral and wanted to be cremated. Due to some family members’ health issues, a memorial service was postponed to September of 2017. Friends and family came from all over the country to remember Kathleen and the very next day they participated in the Care Dimensions Walk for Hospice. This year will be no different and Marilyn and her family look forward to giving back to the organization that gave so much to her mother and father’s lives as well as to the rest of the family.
Since 1978, Care Dimensions has provided comprehensive and compassionate care for individuals and families dealing with life-threatening illnesses. As the non-profit leader in advanced illness care, we offer services in more than 95 communities in Eastern Massachusetts.