A life of caring

By: Mary Zahner Bauer, KCH Director of Donor Relations
Published: July 11, 2023, originally published in our Spring 2023 Luminary Magazine

Kathy Smith recalls becoming a fan of hospice care at a young age. Being an only child, she remembers at the age of 12 having conversations with her parents about dying and end-of-life care. She shares, “I was lucky to learn from my parents that there were things worse than death.” The family would sit down together once a year to discuss what they wanted for their end-of-life care. When Kathy was 53 and her mother became ill, she did not hesitate to call for hospice care. Later, when Kathy’s husband became very ill, she witnessed a different kind of journey without hospice care. This experience reinforced her belief in the power of hospice to ensure comfort and quality of life for people at the end of life.

Kathy cares for one of her beloved bunnies, Buxton, at her home in Kansas City.

In addition to being part of her parents’ end-of-life and dying journey, with the help of hospice, Kathy provided that same kind of compassionate care to her precious pet bunnies when they were dying. She says, “I believe death is sacred, not a time to be scared but a time to embrace and make sacred and special as best we can.”

These conversations and beliefs led Kathy to seek out a local nonprofit hospice with sustainability and longevity. She was also looking for a hospice that offered help to patients who have pets. After doing some research, she reached out to Kansas City Hospice & Palliative Care (KCH) and began conversations about leaving a piece of her legacy with KCH through a planned gift included in her estate plans. She completed those plans in 2018 and shares why it is meaningful to her, “I want to help make sure everyone has a sacred death and receives the special care and support that is given by the hospice team.” Kathy’s hope is that natural death will become more acceptable in our society and recognized as a choice. She hopes more people can see that this time of life is just as important as the beginning is.

Kathy with another of her beloved bunnies, Mithril.

Kathy left this world on April 29th under the care of Kansas City Hospice. It was an honor to be able to help her experience what is so important to her, a sacred death. It brought her peace of mind knowing her plans are in place and she will continue to provide care for others.

For more information about becoming a KCH Full Circle Society member with a lasting gift that honors your legacy and provides needed end-of-life care to others, contact Mary Zahner Bauer at 816.276.2625 or mbauer@KCHospice.org.


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