Reflections on My Experience in Hospice

Many people regard hospice as a place circled by death. They believe it is a place where people come in and soon leave. They also believe that it’s a place not comparable to home. However, it often is the contrary based on my experience volunteering in hospice.

People do come in sick, and they are at the ending stages of life; however, that does not mean they collapse and it does not mean they are different from any of us. As you engage in conversations with these people, you do not think they will die someday, perhaps soon, in the future, but you think about their personality, what they like and dislike, what TV series they prefer, etc. Sometimes you may not be able to engage in conversations with these people because they may have difficulty with speech and pain, but your physical presence still helps. In my first visit, I came to a room where the lady did not say a word. At first, I spoke too fast, and she raised her hand to her temples. I stopped and was worried if my speech caused her any discomforts. It also feels embarrassing to just stand there and talk as if you are talking to yourself. I chose to stay and sat down, and she dozed a little. At the end when I was leaving, she opened her eyes and smiled. During the middle of that visit, I was questioning if the patient actually needs it. By the end, however, I realized some people may not be good at expressing their emotions, and you first need to be calm yourself, and give them time and a little more patience. Although they may appreciate your act, they may not be able to say it to you, especially the patients, who may be under physical constraints or sufferings. In my time volunteering, there was another patient who came in by her own decision. She was very energetic. She said she does not want to live her remaining life struggling on hospital beds, but wants to fully and calmly go through the remaining times. The conversation with her helped me realize (though people always say it) that death should not be the end that we ignore, but rather a part of a natural process.