Bonded by a Remembrance of Love

By AccentCare

The following story was submitted by Ethan Pope, AccentCare music rings

A special thank you to Ethan, Caitlin Sunderland, Albert Sarfo-Asante,

and Esther Manu for ensuring a beautiful end-of-life experience for our patient, Katie.


Earlier this winter, the Connecticut hospice team had the privilege of serving our patient, Katie, 32, who was suffering from liver failure. Throughout her entire care, Katie’s significant other, Craig, remained by her side. Katie and Craig knew each other for 19 years, starting from a young age in school. They were each other’s best friends and confidantes. Recently, their relationship grew more committed, as they owned a home together as well as a dog, Maggie, whom Katie convinced Craig to adopt.

Katie received our care for only one week as her disease progressed quickly. During this week, Craig decided to propose to Katie, knowing how much it would mean for them. Craig proposed to Katie the weekend before she died. When Craig knelt on one knee bedside her hospital bed and asked her to marry him, Katie replied, “Are you sure?” before giving him a whole-hearted “yes.” The engagement ring never left Katie’s hand, even in the most difficult moments of symptom management. Katie’s family mentioned that all she ever wanted was to be engaged.

Later that week, Ethan Pope, Katie’s music therapist from her care team, asked, “are they planning to get married?” to the hospice team. Members of the hospice team spoke with Katie and Craig about the idea of a wedding, and Katie and Craig happily decided to get married. The members of the hospice team, including Katie’s social worker Esther, began planning the wedding.

On a rainy Thursday, Katie's mom Michelle, her sister Becky, Craig, and his mom gathered in Katie's small hospital room along with her chaplain Albert, music therapist Ethan, clinical nurse leader Cait, social worker Esther, and nurse Jill from the hospital. Katie was minimally responsive, but finally resting peacefully without symptoms, thanks to clinical nurse leader’s Cait and Kathy's relentless efforts over the past week. In contrast to the weather, the room was full of rays of light and love.
With Craig holding Katie's hand, chaplain Albert recited the traditional vows, along with prayers and blessings. Ethan closed with one of Katie's favorite 90s country songs, "It's Your Love," which she told him was a special one a couple days before the ceremony. The ceremony concluded as Esther and Albert facilitated the signing of the ceremony of love certificates with not only Craig, but also Katie's mom, to give her something to hold on to and signify her bond. Cait and Esther recorded the ceremony and were vital in providing support and a comforting presence to the family throughout the experience. There were many tears and hugs, yet ones that were full of happiness and serenity. Less than an hour later, Katie died peacefully at the age of 32 surrounded by her loving family and caregivers.

Through this ceremony of love, we hope that Katie’s life will live on through this memory and that Craig and Katie’s loved ones know that they will never be alone, so long as they have each other.

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