April 16, 2013
It’s April 16, National Healthcare Decisions Day, and people across the nation are focused on the unpredictability of life and the world around us in a way we could not have foreseen. A senseless act of violence in Boston yesterday afternoon at the Boston Marathon has left us horrified, angry, frightened and confused. Very rarely can such violence be explained in any manner that makes sense to rational people.
Our thoughts and prayers go out to all those affected by the bombings in one of America’s most historic cities.
I began my hospice career as CEO of Hospice West in Boston more than 30 years ago. My daughter, Amelia, son-in-law and two granddaughters live in Boston and I am a frequent visitor. Many of the supporters of our National Hospice Foundation’s Run to Remember program have also participated in this great event in past years. In fact, Amelia and the two girls were watching the marathon waiting for a friend to pass by and had left the race only a short time before the bombing. My fondness for this city runs deep, hence, my urge to share some thoughts with you.
Upon reflection of Monday’s events, I am reminded of the courage and skill of our nation’s first responder and law enforcement. I am touched by the acts of kindness by many who came to the aid of the seriously injured and frightened. I am also reminded of the resilience of the American people.
The world is a different place than when I lived in Boston but our humanity has not changed. Issues involving national security are part of our normal lives. Increased security and awareness are not intended to put us on edge but, rather, to help us to live our lives without feeling controlled by terror or violence.
Today, many of you will care for someone who will end their life’s journey. You will be there for them, and comfort their families as they say a final goodbye and grieve their loss. I know you will care for them with the professionalism and compassion that are hallmarks of hospice care. Your mission to serve others will not be diminished or hampered.
Yet, yesterday’s events do affect us. We should allow ourselves time to process what we are seeing and hearing via ongoing newscasts. We are reminded to be attentive to our children and monitor what they may be seeing on the news or on the Internet. Let us also support those heroes who respond in such emergencies and lend an ear to our friends and neighbors who may need to share their fears or concerns without judgment. It’s also an important time to take an extra moment to tell those near to us that we love them.
As we mark National Healthcare Decisions Day, I encourage all of you who are able to consider donating blood in the weeks ahead. The tragedy in Boston demonstrates the importance of this simple act. Let this be one way we honor those who have died or have been injured as we continue to live free from the shadow of terror.
I consider myself blessed to be part of this community.
J. Donald Schumacher, PsyD
President and CEO