Participating in the Holisticare Hospice program this year has been a wonderful experience. I have never been part of a community devoted to the art of dying and death and it has given me a new perspective on how the dying are cared for not just physically but also mentally and emotionally. My preconceptions about … Continue reading “Discoveries”

A Work in Progress

I am not unfamiliar with death. It stole, into my house and my life, when I was just six years old, with my mother’s passing from ovarian cancer. I can recall that day clearly–it was summer, the sky was unfairly blue, and light shown into the bedroom where once she lay in darkness, tubes in … Continue reading “A Work in Progress”

She is queen!

“She is queen!” exclaimed a staff member of Sunrise of Westtown. My patient sends a large, beautiful grin to her and claps as I play “Got To Get You Into My Life” on the violin. It’s as if we are not in a bedroom of a hospice facility, waiting for the Sunday dinner call. No, … Continue reading “She is queen!”

My Brush with Death

Throughout my life, I have always been a stranger to death. I’d always seen or heard about it in the media, but I never felt it myself. I had never known or encountered someone who I have been close to who has died. Perhaps the most related incident I have with death is with my … Continue reading “My Brush with Death”

A Reflection on My Time as a Hospice Volunteer

It was over the course of the seven months I spent as a hospice volunteer that I experienced three deaths: my grandmother who I call Didi, my patient Lily, and my piano teacher of 10 years. My Didi passed away in November, the same day that my first patient died. I actually received the news … Continue reading “A Reflection on My Time as a Hospice Volunteer”

To Look Death in the Eye

It was one hot, sunny day in October. I was nervous, pacing around my room. I wasn’t quite sure what to think. It was the day of my very first patient visit with Holisticare. We carpooled to the home, we parked the car, we walked into the building and signed in. I had no expectations, … Continue reading “To Look Death in the Eye”

A New Perception of Death – My Experience as a Hospice Volunteer

In his The New York Times article “What Our Cells Teach Us About a Natural Death,” Haider Warraich writes, “We humans spend much of our lives denying death. Death, however, is not the enemy. If there is an enemy, it is the fear that death arouses.” I felt this enemy besiege my family as my … Continue reading “A New Perception of Death – My Experience as a Hospice Volunteer”

Acknowledging Death

Despite my interest in medicine and treatment of the ill throughout most of my life, death and dying have always been fairly distant concepts. When I once imagined medicine I fell into the trap, one that I believe is very common in society, that medicine is all about life: treating illnesses that challenge life, prolonging … Continue reading “Acknowledging Death”

The Women of Rosemont

The year I have spent as a Hospice volunteer unfolded in two phases. The first was centered around Mona. Twice a week starting in October, I signed in to the weathered Hospice facility binder and knocked on her door. I quickly learned not to expect a response. Mona is a woman of few words, limited … Continue reading “The Women of Rosemont”

Saying Goodbye

I visited Maria from the beginning of the program through mid-February. The first time I visited I introduced myself, and she slept the whole visit. Little did I know then how my following visits would be filled with stories, kindness, and laughter. She would often repeat her favorite stories in one visit word for word with … Continue reading “Saying Goodbye”