By Terranda King
At the age of 34, my son and only child, Grant, was diagnosed with melanoma. After treatment, he went into remission for three years. When the cancer returned, he died at 38. Hospice of Santa Barbara (HSB) addressed our most important needs – the mental, emotional and spiritual ones.
Grant was a talented artist, and he and I had a deep, soul connection. We were each other’s teacher and student. From a mom’s point of view, he was smart, funny, kind, handsome, artistic and creative. His friends described him as an old and wise soul who was a ferociously loyal friend. They appreciated his sharp wit and unique ability to use humor in the worst of situations. Whatever was happening around him, Grant always wanted to make others feel better and more at ease.
Our HSB Patient Care Services (PCS) social worker, Tianna Swede, was an incredible, compassionate gift to us. She knew what we needed at a deep, soul level even before we did, and she had the personal and professional skills to meet those needs. She considered our entire situation - from the practical to the emotional - completed an in-home assessment and provided supportive counseling.
I depended on her greatly during Grant’s final days. Completely depleted after seven months as his sole caregiver, I called Tianna in desperation about problems with the delivery of an in-home hospital bed for my 6’ 4”, 220 pound son. The delivery service wanted us to dismantle Grant’s existing bed and only scheduled appointments in 3 hour windows. Since Grant was bedridden with just one week left to live, this did not work for us.
“Let me make a few calls and get back to you,” Tianna said. “You need to just be a mom, and Grant needs to be surrounded by beauty.”
She quickly saw beneath the surface to our deepest and truest needs. The next morning she had Grant moved to a beautiful hospice facility with breathtaking views of Santa Barbara despite the fact that it was full with a waiting list when she initially called. This priceless gift made all the difference when Grant died peacefully four days later with me at his side. Tianna was actively involved in coordinating Grant’s care and collaborating with his other health care professionals, including his oncologist, Community Palliative Care, Food from the Heart, and, finally, the medical hospice facility where he died. She also made sure Grant's advance directives were in order.
Hospice of Santa Barbara honored who Grant was, in a very real way, allowing him to have the most meaningful death possible -- with grace, beauty and dignity befitting of who he was. I cannot recommend the services and care of Hospice of Santa Barbara enough. I found them to be extremely intuitive, professional, kind, and compassionate on every level.
Inconceivably, their invaluable services are provided free of charge. Their work is accomplished through charitable contributions, philanthropic giving and community fundraising so no one is ever handed a bill. A commitment to service permeates everything they do for people in their time of great need. Nothing is too great or too small, from providing advance directive forms to helping an artist leave this world surrounded by beauty.
With deepest gratitude, Light and Love,