We live our lives dreading the topic of death, lest we provoke the Grim Reaper, Azrael, Yama, or whatever names we choose to personify death with. We understand that our time on earth is fleeting, and we are uncertain of when we will be unable to make the morning rush. I joined the hospice program … Continue reading “Goodbyes”

Reflections on a Year of Growth

I have been fortunate enough to see the same hospice patient for my entire time in this program. Vivian is a sweet woman that loves to talk, although her vascular dementia means that her conversations are often confusing to follow and she never remembers exactly who I am. Still, her face always lights up with … Continue reading “Reflections on a Year of Growth”

My Time with Hospice

I spent most of my time throughout the hospice volunteer program with my patient Johanna and her husband Jonathan, whom she lived with in an apartment in a facility. Early on in my visits with her, Johanna always greeted me with a smile and hug and usually complimented my appearance. She was very quick-witted, often making jokes … Continue reading “My Time with Hospice”

The Final Days

Every Sunday I would wake up looking forward to meeting Dora, thinking about how my visit would bring a bit of happiness to her life and someone to talk to and share experiences with. I noticed that regardless of how refined an assisted living facility may be, it is difficult for patients to have company given … Continue reading “The Final Days”

Rebecca’s Sculptor

Perhaps the most meaningful relationship I have had with a hospice patient was with a woman who I will call Rebecca, a name I have borrowed from a wooden sculpture she created. From the first day I met her, I could tell that Rebecca was a free-spirit. For most of her life, she created beautiful pieces … Continue reading “Rebecca’s Sculptor”

Don’t Count The Days. Make The Days Count.

The patient I spent the most time with was one who has been bedbound for years following his stroke and consequent paralysis. Over the months I visited him, I’d like to think I became a valuable confidante. He would not only tell me stories of his rich and fruitful life before his stroke, but also … Continue reading “Don’t Count The Days. Make The Days Count.”

Connection Makes a Difference

I entered this hospice volunteer program with perhaps more exposure to medicine and serious illness than the average student. Over the past several years, I’ve done a lot of shadowing with a trauma and acute care surgery team. I’ve witnessed sickness and death. These experiences have been very informative and important to my growth as … Continue reading “Connection Makes a Difference”

Moments to Memories

In September, I had the chance to meet Madge. Madge had been at the care center for a while before I began to visit her every Saturday. She was always either sleeping in her bed or chair. I tried waking her up at first, but when that didn’t work, I tried visiting at different times … Continue reading “Moments to Memories”

Hospice and Me: A Reflection on Patient Encounters

Dr. H struck me as a very sweet-tempered and genuinely caring person when I first met him. This has not changed as I have gotten to know him better. When his eyes light up at the mention of his wife coming to visit, or when his voice speaks of his children’s achievements with a father’s … Continue reading “Hospice and Me: A Reflection on Patient Encounters”

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”