Making Good Time

Michael G. Boston, chaplain for Compassus–Butte, suggests how to help patients and caregivers make the most of their limited time.

Precious Time

If there is one thing in this life we take for granted, it’s time. We are always saying things like “I need more time,” “I’m out of time,” It’s about time,” “It’s time to relax,” and on and on.


Time is one of the many intangibles of life, but I would venture to say that there is nothing that impacts the tangible things in life more than time. And no one becomes more aware of time than the one who has been told they have but a finite amount of time left.


A caregiver who suddenly realizes that time with their loved one is limited finds his or her mind racing to remember the times of gathering and embracing, the times of dancing, the times of loving and the times of peace.


A caregiver may ask themselves, “Did I take enough time to say I love you?” or “Did I take enough time just to be with you?” or “Did I take time with you for granted?”


When members of the hospice team are caring for the caregiver, it’s helpful to remember two absolute truths about time:


First, every life is comprised of a set number of days between birth and death. The total number of days of a lifetime remains a mystery until revealed at death. Some believe that this number is purely defined by chance. Faith tells others that this number is set by God who knew before the foundation of the world the length of every life lived.


Second, time cannot be saved and redeemed for a “rainy day.” There are no “do-overs” when it comes to time. Every morning each person alive is credited with 86,400 seconds to use as he or she sees fit. At the end of the day, every one of those seconds that was not used is gone. There’s no going back. There is no drawing against tomorrow.


As we care for our patients and their caregivers, it’s good for us to be aware of how we have allowed time to impact our own lives and relationships.


Being aware of time can provide insight into the lives of those we care for as they realize with each passing hour, that their time is limited.

This article originally appeared in Everyday Compassion magazine. To browse full issues of the magazine, click here.