Joy to End

Though my entire experience as a hospice volunteer has been a profound learning experience, my first patient was by far the most meaningful. I spent September, October, and most of November visiting June (I’ve chosen this pseudonym as it seems to best describe her character). Previously, I had witnessed hospice living during the late stages … Continue reading “Joy to End”

Sparkling in the End

I had never thought about death and how people should spend the time in the end deeply before participating in this program. It is always very difficult to relate myself to death and even relate death to anything else. But now, I feel I can count the steps of death and depict the anxious approaching … Continue reading “Sparkling in the End”

Reflecting on a Year of Service

Throughout this academic year I have visited a single patient, who I will refer to as Henriette. At first, our visits were somewhat awkward, and I did not feel like I was connecting to Henriette in the way I wished to. She was verbal, responsive, and could carry a conversation for the most part. However, … Continue reading “Reflecting on a Year of Service”

Reflecting on “Being Mortal” and Embracing Discomfort

A couple years ago, I picked up Atul Gawande’s book, Being Mortal, on a whim. I was looking for something to read on the train on the way home for Thanksgiving. I started reading the first few pages to see if I liked it, and ended up reading in the library for over an hour … Continue reading “Reflecting on “Being Mortal” and Embracing Discomfort”

A Frienship in the Past

I’ve always seen death as an event. A sudden heart attack. A phone call out of nowhere. An isolated instance in which any forewarning, preparation or prior consideration of death is rendered meaningless. I saw it as a destructive force, pushing everyone and everything out of its way. Then I met Sophia. I remember clearly … Continue reading “A Frienship in the Past”

A Century Old

Just last month, my patient turned 100 years old! I remember when I first met her, one of the first things she declared was, “I’m 99 years old!” Thinking about it brings a smile to my face. Now I think of her even when I’m not with her, I see her resemblance to the other … Continue reading “A Century Old”

Thoughts on Death: As They Remember Life

Occasionally, I am afforded opportunities to experience life in new and glorious ways. These experiences can either challenge me to change my conceptions or fortify my understandings of the world. Whenever I have the opportunity to do both, I am humbled and excited to grow more. This past year, I have experienced life through a … Continue reading “Thoughts on Death: As They Remember Life”

A Sunday Letter: Unexpected Things in Volunteering

Dear Chaplain, I felt most reflective when we sat in those Sunday circles and listened to each other. I am a private person, but the passage of the year and the solemnity of the other students heightened my comfort with sharing. Of course, your indefatigable positivity and openness certainly helped. For all these reasons, I … Continue reading “A Sunday Letter: Unexpected Things in Volunteering”

Reflections on Hospice as a Lived Experience

Death, with its shrouded mystery, is often anticipated to be an inherently profound experience. The call for hospice volunteers came with words like “demanding,” “emotionally complex,” and framed the experience as one where I would “help the patient navigate the process of dying.” These characterizations are not necessarily untrue of my volunteer experience. Yet more … Continue reading “Reflections on Hospice as a Lived Experience”


I originally sought out the Kindred Hospice opportunity because I wanted to learn more about death. It was foreign to me: all my other grandparents’ deaths came to me through my parents’ sad words. Both my classmates’ deaths had been sudden. I had little idea as a doctor what I would say to a patient … Continue reading “Listening”