Finding Joy In The Final Journey

“I have been looking forward to death for a long time—no one wants to die, but I am prepared,” said Barbara Andersen, Fairview Hospice patient.

When 91-year-old Barbara was diagnosed with terminal lung cancer, she quickly made peace with her diagnosis and began to put her affairs in order. When shortly after her diagnosis a blood clot sent her to the Fairview Southdale Hospital emergency room, she thought perhaps her time had come.

But instead of death, Barbara—a retired teacher, runner and self-proclaimed life traveler—found her next great adventure.

Considering hospice

“They took great care of me and fixed me up. But they also asked me if I had considered hospice,” recalled Barbara.

Within just thirty minutes of indicating she would be interested in learning more, a social worker sat down with her and introduced her to the program. She soon had all the resources she needed to manage her care in the comfort of her home.

Within days Barbara was connected to a dedicated care team, including a social worker, RN, massage therapist, music therapist and more.

Caring for Barbara

Each specialist helped Barbara manage her care in a unique way. Daniel Sarkiaho, Barbara’s RN worked with her to help her understand what was likely coming next in regards to her physical health.

“Daniel is wonderful—he explains everything to me and keeps me up to date on everything that is happening,” said Barbara. “You can tell that, for him, this isn’t a career. It is a vocation.”

Meanwhile, Tim Turner her massage therapist, not only provided physical comfort, easing aches and pains—he also nurtured her soul, sharing his love of reading and his favorite books with the former English teacher.

Barbara in particular reported cherishing her appointments with Brenton Haack, music therapist. While the duo shared favorite songs and tunes, they also used their time together to explore how Barbara remembered music throughout her life.

For example, when Brenton’s appointment fell on the anniversary of the death of her brother, Barbara asked him to play a selection of music she recalled from his funeral service. As they worked through the music, Brenton invited Barbara to share her favorite memories of her brother.

“He intuitively knew that was what I needed—to share the memory of one of my favorite people with someone else,” said Barbara.

Making every moment matter

Together, Barbara’s care team made her final month’s memorable and meaningful.

“I will never regret these last few months when I thought I would be dead because hospice has made such a great difference to me,” said Barbara. “I would never have known these people who have made such an incredible impact on me.”

How you can help

Fairview Hospice supports hundreds of families each year.

Many of the therapies and services that help make Fairview Hospice so meaningful—music therapy, therapeutic massage, bereavement programs and more—are not reimbursed by insurance. These programs come at no cost to patients because of our donors. To learn more about how you can support patients like Barbara, visit

Barbara passed away earlier this spring, completing her life’s journey. At her funeral and celebration of life Brenton was on hand to play a song the pair had discovered together several months ago, aptly named, “The Happy Wanderer.”

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