Birthday Card

“Happy 91st birthday! I wish you a long and healthy life …” As I had been reading aloud all of the birthday cards that “Anna” had not been able to read due to her deteriorated eyesight, she stopped to comment at the end of this letter as she had with every other one. Usually, it … Continue reading “Birthday Card”

Coming to Terms with Myself

When I first applied and began my volunteer experience with the volunteer hospice program through Swarthmore, I admit that I thought of it as a resume booster. It was just something that I had to do if I wanted to get into medical school eventually. I never thought that it would be something I genuinely … Continue reading “Coming to Terms with Myself”

A Deeper Understanding

In the past, my friends would always joke around when trying to persuade me to take a leap of faith or do something outrageous by saying, “What’s the worst that could happen?” Immediately, I would respond with one simple phrase: “I could die.” Before working hospice, death was not a subject that I had ever … Continue reading “A Deeper Understanding”

New Perspectives

I read Being Mortal a few years ago, and reading it was one of the main reasons I wanted to start volunteering with Ascend, to gather my own information to form opinions on end-of-life care. Even before reading this thought-provoking book, I had often held long philosophical debates late into the night with friends whose … Continue reading “New Perspectives”

Snippets from my past year as a hospice volunteer

A year is a long time to be visiting patients – or 7 months really. Looking back, a lot of my patients blur together especially since I didn’t often see the same patients for long periods of time. So what sticks out instead are the brief interactions, the ones that were unique and special and … Continue reading “Snippets from my past year as a hospice volunteer”

Small Gestures and Memories, and Carrying On Legacies

One of my most meaningful interactions during my hospice experience was a visit with a couple who had been together for 50 years, but who had only recently gotten married at the care center last year. While the husband Jack was deteriorating at a much faster rate than his wife Lisa, Lisa was able to … Continue reading “Small Gestures and Memories, and Carrying On Legacies”

My Hospice Volunteer Journey

Being a hospice volunteer has been instrumental in improving my understanding of the death and dying process, as well as in teaching me how to interact with actively dying patients and their families. Prior to becoming a hospice volunteer, I was completely unfamiliar with the dying process. I had done clinical volunteering before, but the … Continue reading “My Hospice Volunteer Journey”

Seeking Joy

The patient I’ve been visiting for the past 5 months, “Elaine,” has extremely advanced vascular dementia. During my visits, I usually try to talk or read to her. Since she’s hard of hearing, I’ll get really close to her face and touch her arm. The touch will almost “wake” her up for a few seconds … Continue reading “Seeking Joy”

My Experience

Watching Being Mortal and the prompts I received helped me view death a lot differently. I also took an APSD Preparing for Health Careers course at Villanova and it also gave us insight on the work of a hospice volunteer. We followed the story of one woman who was told by a family not to … Continue reading “My Experience”

Learning Through Death

Death is a concept that has always been hard for me to discuss and completely accept as a part of my human experience. Facing the idea of your own morality is taboo within our society. This taboo is even more apparent for younger people who have a sense of invincibility. I have only experienced one … Continue reading “Learning Through Death”