Love, Uninterrupted

Pauline had been in hospice care for a few months. She had advanced dementia and limited mobility. She loved to pet and stroke the stuffed animal cats and sit in her big chair in the common room. I had interacted with her a few times as I had come to the House previously, though obviously … Continue reading “Love, Uninterrupted”

Hospice reflection

During my time at Hospice of the Valley, I learned valuable things about life. For example, one day as a volunteer when I was taking care and playing with one of the kids, we were listening to the Wiggles song. I would interact with him by doing the same hand movement that the Wiggles would … Continue reading “Hospice reflection”

The Power of Simplicity

It was a great experience to be a part of the Pre-Med Hospice Volunteer Program and every visit was very meaningful. However, the one that stood out the most was the interaction I had with James. I had arrived for an evening shift and I remember being asked to interact with James. The expression on … Continue reading “The Power of Simplicity”


My most meaningful relationship was found with a rather pleasant old woman who soon came into being a dear friend of mine, as she really taught me what it meant to give. I say this because she offered me, one who was a complete stranger, the gift of her life; the gift of her history … Continue reading “Thanks”

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”