My heart is in my throat today and my stomach is twisted up so much that it feels like at any moment I may somehow expel the absolutely nothing that I've had to eat or drink since I got the news last night. My sweet friend, my vibrant friend, my strong friend, has been moved into hospice.

My brilliant friend Maria has fought and won the war on breast cancer several times, but it appears this battle may be her last and I don't want it to be. I want to be able to open my Facebook and read her daily posts and smile at her photos and cheer for her and her new husband (they've been together for ages and finally got married recently).

Maria has been part of my life for the last twelve years and her rapid decline makes me want to scream and punch and yell and do all sorts of unladylike things. Maria just lost her mama, also to cancer. This is so unfair.

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When I read the news that Maria's husband had to make the gut-wrenching decision to place her in the care of hospice, I couldn't help my mind from wandering to all of the questions I think most people find themselves mulling over when someone they love has received the very worst news.

How long does Maria have? Could she prove everyone wrong and make a miraculous recovery, does being placed in the care of hospice mean there is no hope? There's always hope, right? There has to be or else how do we even put one foot in front of the other each day? Hope is what fuels us. I had to know what my friend being placed into the hands of hospice meant and I felt that I needed to share it with you in case, and I hope you don't, you ever find yourself in the same situation.

Does Hospice Mean Death?

No. In fact, that might be the biggest misconception of all. Being put in the hands of hospice doesn't mean death is near. According to Daily Caring, hospice is actually, "a type of medical care where the goal is to maintain or improve quality of life for someone whose illness, disease, or condition is unlikely to be cured."

How Long Does a Person Live After Being Put On Hospice?

The Journal of Palliative Medicine explains that while, sadly, most people in hospice will succumb to their illness rather quickly after being placed in care, there are some who may live another six months or longer.

Does Going Into Hospice Mean Someone Dies Faster?

According to Vitas, "There are no studies that indicate that hospice can hasten death, but there have been studies showing that some patients live longer when receiving hospice services."

Is Hospice Only for People Who Are at the End of Their Life?

I am so sad to say that I've personally had loved ones be placed in hospice and I can tell you that the time between when they are placed in care and the time they die can vary greatly. A high school friend was placed in a hospice house where she lived for three months before she died. My husband's grandfather was placed in hospice and died a week after. And then there was my precious grandpa who I loved so deeply. My grandpa was placed in hospice and died less than three days later.

What Is the Purpose of Hospice?

Many believe that hospice helps speed up the dying process for someone who has received confirmation that their time is short, but this is not at all the case. Hospice is not a form of assisted death or euthanasia, but rather a service that provides comfort and care to a person who is terminally ill. Medications are given to make the unwell person comfortable, but not at levels that would steal them of life. Hospice also provides comfort and social services to family and friends.

I hate to think that you, too, might be in a situation where you are facing the loss of someone you love, but I want to let you know that should you want it, we offer FREE obituary listings. We prefer to call them "life stories," because that is exactly what they are, and there are no word caps, no photo fees, and your loved one's life story will live on forever on the websites of Townsquare Media. If you'd like to learn more about how to share your loved one's life story, you'll find information here.

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