Finding Peace and Meaning in Death

Coming into my junior year of college at the University of Pittsburgh, I did not expect to spend a Sunday every couple of weeks sitting inside a church, eating pizza, and reflecting on death. But I am grateful I did. Over the 2017-18 school year, I had the opportunity to spend time at West Penn … Continue reading “Finding Peace and Meaning in Death”

Not Dying Alone

She cried out, “Mother, mother! Don’t leave me!” I had recently concluded our visit and was walking away when Ms. B began to wail these words. My throat tightened, and I was compelled to return to sit with her. Drawing on the volunteer training, I investigated her feelings by asking a few questions. Ms. B … Continue reading “Not Dying Alone”

Dying As a Story

After nearly one academic year of participating in this hospice program, there is one event that stands out to me the most. It was the first patient assigned to me that lived with her husband and was in the late stages of Parkinson’s. She could not speak nor move, however, she was aware of her … Continue reading “Dying As a Story”

Bringing Humanity to Death

There are a lot of clichés to describe death, most of which seem to center around an attempt at personal acceptance of the inevitable. Death is a lot less scary and mysterious when we choose to think of it as a kind of never-ending sleep, or as the next great adventure. Although death is, on … Continue reading “Bringing Humanity to Death”

Coming to terms with the end

The last nine months serving as a volunteer have been truly a whirlwind of emotions. Not knowing what to expect as I walked into my first patient visit was one of the more nerve-racking experiences I have felt in a very long time. In particular, even though I knew my patient’s medical status and how … Continue reading “Coming to terms with the end”

Death as Part of Life

Growing up, I had only been exposed to one particular physician image; the hero doctor. As a child, the carefully constructed representation of physicians as miracle workers was very appealing. The doctor was the champion of life, prolonging it and saving it, always resulting in smiles and joy from families and patients. I desperately wanted … Continue reading “Death as Part of Life”

Changing Fears of Death

I was very nervous the first time I walked into the assisted living facility. I was worried about many things: finding my assigned patient, connecting with her, and making my visits as beneficial as possible. More than anything, however, I was afraid of death. I was afraid of growing attached to someone who would likely … Continue reading “Changing Fears of Death”

Acceptance: The True Fight Against Death

I arrived at my first visit with four of my classmates. Our shared nervousness provided a source of comfort as we walked toward the residence of our patients. This unspoken support was short lived, however, as our paths diverged to separate floors. I was excited; I had the opportunity to make a difference in someone’s … Continue reading “Acceptance: The True Fight Against Death”

Reflection and Realizations about Death and Importance of Palliative Care at the End of Life

The Hospice Volunteer Program has been a great way for me to learn about palliative end-of-life care that I was not aware of beforehand. I always thought of physicians as individuals who would prolong a patient’s life through any plausible means; however, I have realized that palliative care at the end-of-life can be better and … Continue reading “Reflection and Realizations about Death and Importance of Palliative Care at the End of Life”