My Hospice Experience

Throughout the last year, I have spent time volunteering in the inpatient hospice unit at West Penn Hospital as well as visiting the home of a patient with late stage dementia. Before I began this volunteering, I had no experience with death nor had I considered my feelings about death. However, through our discussions with … Continue reading “My Hospice Experience”

Hospice Care and Compassion- Why It Matters

Every time I tell people I volunteer at a hospice, I get the same reaction. People are always asking me, “Isn’t that sad?” or “How can you do that?” I can never quite explain to people why my volunteering doesn’t make me depressed or cause me to fear my own mortality. I think people are … Continue reading “Hospice Care and Compassion- Why It Matters”

Hymns and Hospice

I was still a little flustered over missing my bus when I stepped into the hospice unit for my very first day of volunteering. After introducing myself to the nurses, I began working through the list of activities outlined for volunteers to complete and quickly settled into the homey environment of the unit. About halfway … Continue reading “Hymns and Hospice”

Sensible and Sensitive Thought

On my first day of hospice volunteering, I was nervous. I really didn’t want to feel afraid because I knew death was a natural occurrence. I understood that everyone has to die, and if I truly wanted to be a doctor I might have to deal with death every day. I thought to be an … Continue reading “Sensible and Sensitive Thought”

On compassion in the face of death

“Medical professionals concentrate on repair of health, not sustenance of the soul.” Upon encountering this line in Being Mortal by Atul Gawande, I became filled with regret. My grandmother had succumbed to leukemia only months prior, and her battle was harrowing. She, a healthy, able-bodied, gardening enthusiast with no signs of aging other than mild … Continue reading “On compassion in the face of death”

A New Experience with the Aging Population: the Dying

I have been volunteering with the aging population since middle school, so I jumped at the opportunity to join the Pre-Med Hospice Volunteer Program with Ascend. I have previously volunteered in nursing homes, but hospice has been an entirely different, difficult, and rewarding experience altogether. In my prior volunteer experience, I always dealt with long-term … Continue reading “A New Experience with the Aging Population: the Dying”

You’re not alone

This year, I heard death’s knock on my door more than I ever had before. I experienced the fragility of life both personally and professionally. It became real to me in a way it wasn’t in the past. My first patient through Ascend was sad in a way I was not used to. I have … Continue reading “You’re not alone”

Understanding Death and Dying

As Janet and Carl were in the back of the car on their way to meet a patient, Kate, that we had been told could be quite hostile and angry when visitors arrived, there was certainly an air of uneasiness. I do not think either Janet or Carl were necessarily scared, just anxious about the … Continue reading “Understanding Death and Dying”

As comfort is provided with loved ones near, We learn to love all that we hear.

The word “death” through my first 20 years of life has held continually evolving meanings. Throughout childhood, the concept of death was terrifying for me. My overall good-natured, innocent self, coupled with strict obedience to my parents and our religion had me believing myself to be on a straight-track to heaven; a salvation in the … Continue reading “As comfort is provided with loved ones near, We learn to love all that we hear.”

Becoming Comfortable with Death

At the beginning of this year, I was both nervous and excited to participate in this program. Even though I had experiences with death in the past, I never took the time to think and talk about death in such an intimate way as I did in this program. Interacting with hospice patients and their … Continue reading “Becoming Comfortable with Death”