By: Kenneth Sullivan

November is National Hospice and Palliative Month when Americans honor and acknowledge doctors, nurses, social workers, and spiritual advisors for their dedication to treating patients with life-threatening or terminal illnesses. Hospice and palliative care services treat patients with the following diseases: cancer, heart disease, lung disease, dementia or Alzheimer’s disease, liver disease, and kidney disease.

National Hospice and Palliative Month came into existence when President Jimmy Carter announced November as the month of observance in 1978. In 1978, thousands of patients received hospice and palliative care in the United States. About 1.5 receive the care every year (

The website compares and contrasts palliative care and hospice care:

Both palliative and hospice care serve patients with life-threatening or terminal illnesses and provide specialized doctors, nurses, social workers, and chaplains to provide medical, social, emotional, and spiritual support to patients and families. Palliative and Hospice care offer services at hospitals, nursing homes, patient’s homes, and outpatient clinics.

Unlike hospice, palliative care does not necessarily mean death. Patients in palliative care receive medical care to treat symptoms that might cure their sickness.  If the treatment that palliative care provides does not help the patient with recovery, the doctor transitions the patient to hospice care. Hospice is a care service that doctors recommend when they believe patients have six or fewer months to live because their illness is incurable; it provides care, comfort, and quality of life to patients approaching the end of life.

Jesus Christ healed all kinds of sickness and disease when He lived on earth (Matthew 4:23-24, Matthew 9:35, Matthew 14:14, Luke 4:40, and Luke 7:21, New King James Version); He even miraculously healed a dying girl and boy by restoring them to life (Matthew 9:24-25, Mark 9:41-42, Luke 9:54-55, and John 4:46-53, New King James Version).  Jesus also sent His disciples and gave them the power to heal all kinds of sickness and diseases (Matthew 10:1, Luke 9:2, and Luke 10:9, New King James Version); He sends and gives palliative care service to do likewise.

Because Jesus cares when people face death (Psalm 116:15, Easy-to-Read Version) and does not lightly let them die (Psalm 116:15, The Living Bible), He blesses hospice workers for treating terminally ill patients.  In addition to blessing hospice workers for treating patients, Jesus also blesses them for helping their families cope with losing loved ones to terminal illnesses.

God is the Father of mercies and all comfort through Jesus Christ (2 Corinthians 1:3, New King James Version); He provides comfort by healing broken hearts and binding up wounds (Psalm 147:3, New King James Version).  Because God consoles broken hearts, He gives a commandment to His people to comfort others (Isaiah 40:1, New King James Version); therefore, hospice chaplains must work with social workers to heal the broken hearts of grieving families.

Hospice and palliative workers deserve accolades for their service; may God continually bless them with strength, patience, and peace this month and each day as they serve patients.—Kenneth Sullivan


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