Ring the bells that still can ring.

Forget your perfect offerings.

There is a crack in everything.

That's how the light gets in.

-- Leonard Cohen

I have personally known of the hospice benefit for some of my dearest friends. Therefore, I wish to pay tribute during November's National Hospice Month to the "light that can come in" during the most difficult days as family and friends face the terminal illness of a loved one and the end of a treasured life. Through the caring comfort of professional staff and trained volunteers, people can enjoy quality of life for the time that remains.

Kansans have since the earliest frontier days looked to the protection and care of family and neighbors. Today, there are many who still wish to remain in their own home when facing a terminal illness. However, the mobility and aging of our society mean that it is ever more important for hospice be a resource available both at home and in a nursing facility almost one-third of Kansans older than 65 years of age live alone. With hospice, care and support are available to patient and family wherever they call home. Hospice care is a covered service under Medicare and Medicaid and most private insurance companies.

Medical treatment has expanded to include hospice and palliative care for persons of any age in the later stages of a terminal illness. We all benefit from more information about care in order to make educated decisions about how we wish to live out our final days.

I join with many Kansans who wish to recognize the dedication and caring of the more than 70 hospices in Kansas who provide special comfort in the darkest days. The nurses, physicians, chaplains, social workers, health care aides and volunteers have let a small light of dignity and peace come in. As Stacy Parkinson, the First Lady of Kansas, eloquently said, "We all share the universality of the human experience of grief."