Healing Race Relations with Hospice Care by Monica Williams-Murphy, MD

Friday, 08 May 2015 03:17

About Dr. Monica Williams-Murphy (120 Posts)

Dr. Monica Williams-Murphy is a Board Certified Emergency Medicine Physician, who practices in one of the largest emergency departments in the United States at Huntsville Hospital. Through her writing and speaking, she is devoted to transforming the end of life into a time of peace, closure and healing. Media Page

I grew up in just-post-segregation Alabama. In 1976, I was a kindergartener and my best friend was a little black boy named Kendall. We had a lot in common. I would chase him around on the playground and he would eat my crayons. Life was grand or so I thought, until my parents came and had a conference with my kindergarten teacher. The next day we were separated from each other in class. I remember crying to mom in protest saying, “But aren’t we ALL God’s children?”

I still feel the same way today. So, I’m extremely disheartened by the recent increase in racial tensions. But I have something very important to share with you…

Hospice care is the antidote.


(This photo is of one of my local hospice nurses comforting her patient.)

Hospice is the one social institution in 2015 which contains the seeds of healing for race relations. You may have never had a black, white, yellow or red-skinned person in your home in your entire life. But, if you are a hospice patient, some human with a different skin tone may very well come into your home to love, serve and care for you in ways you didn’t know were possible.

Also, as we travel the end-of-life pathway, we have opportunities to allow old prejudices to fall away in insignificance. Relationship healing and deepening can occur at accelerated rates. Love and even friendship may blossom more easily.

The giving and receiving of hospice care may be one of the most powerful current reminders that “we are ALL God’s children.”


Please share this message.

#healing #racerelations with #hospice

PS. My parents have long since grown out of their prejudices. No one needs to remain trapped by socio-cultural biases. We can choose a better way.

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8 thoughts on “Healing Race Relations with Hospice Care by Monica Williams-Murphy, MD

  1. Rea

    A beautiful essay on an intractable problem. What is to be done? Here is one person’s answer, thoughtful and true. In the ending, who cares about colors? We surely care for friendship and love. Lessons and healing take place as long as we live, and that is our good fortune. Hospice can heal in many ways…

  2. TJ

    There are many problems with this essay, the most prominent that african americans use hospice at a dramatically lower rate. So in reality it whites who are welcoming people who will serve them- ie nurses, tech, and home health aids, who may be of a different race than them. This will not improve race relations any more than having a black nanny did for those who grew up in the South prior to the Civil Rights era.

    1. Dr. Monica Williams-Murphy Post author

      It is true that the ratios are unequal. But Martin Luther King Jr. was inspired by the words of Ghandi “we must become the change we want to see in the world.” This photo, taken last month in the Deep South, is of a white hospice nurse caring for an African-American hospice patient. This is the change we want to see in the world and it is happening in hospice.

      1. Rea

        It IS happening in hospice! It IS a good change! More will follow. Relationships must be in transition. Hospice is one great place for change.

    2. Sandi

      We are all aware of the differences in use of hospice services, but that does not in any way negate the opportunity to build relationships with the folks we do serve who look different than we do. It also presents us with the challenge to overcome the distrust that other ethnicities have of our healthcare system and to find ways for hospice to reach out to those groups.

  3. Pingback: Healing Race Relations with Hospice Care by Monica Williams-Murphy, MD | It’s OK to Die | Loss, Grief, Transitions and Relationship Support

  4. Robert Jones

    “Chasing superiority” is called the second deadly sin against happiness. “Being overly controlling,” is the fourth sin.

    Yes, I have to remind myself of these from time to time. Yes, I am happier when I visit my little Spiritual Hospice. It has these words on the wall.

    ” Value happiness. Trust life. “

  5. Doug Merchant

    Loved the contents of your letter and hope to receive more as I am the Pastor to over 500 seniors here at Willowbrook Thanks


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