My Hospice Experience

Before I began my hospice experience, I rarely thought about dying and the aging process. Even when I applied to the program, I thought about hospice care as a relatively stagnant experience. Everyone I talked to about hospice had a sad reaction, as if being placed in hospice care were one of the worst things … Continue reading “My Hospice Experience”

Remembering Death as a Part of Life

I knew Alice had no idea who I was each time I walked through her door, so I made sure to introduce myself at the start of every visit. On some days, including the first time we met, she was very cheerful and wanted to take me around her floor. Other times, she was quiet. … Continue reading “Remembering Death as a Part of Life”

Listening to The Little Things

From just one hospice visit, I learned that near the end of life, you begin to find beauty in the mundane and simple. During a visit with a new patient, we spent our entire time together talking about food. My patient was commenting on the breakfast food she had in front of her, wondering if … Continue reading “Listening to The Little Things”

Lonely and Confused

Throughout the last year, I have volunteered with three different women suffering from Alzheimer’s, and in doing so, I have reflected on life and death. I think a lot about my own grandmother, who has Alzheimer’s, and how she has been incredibly fortunate to receive very high-quality, in-home care. In contrast, my most recent patient, … Continue reading “Lonely and Confused”

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”

Changing Fears of Death

I was very nervous the first time I walked into the assisted living facility. I was worried about many things: finding my assigned patient, connecting with her, and making my visits as beneficial as possible. More than anything, however, I was afraid of death. I was afraid of growing attached to someone who would likely … Continue reading “Changing Fears of Death”

Acceptance: The True Fight Against Death

I arrived at my first visit with four of my classmates. Our shared nervousness provided a source of comfort as we walked toward the residence of our patients. This unspoken support was short lived, however, as our paths diverged to separate floors. I was excited; I had the opportunity to make a difference in someone’s … Continue reading “Acceptance: The True Fight Against Death”

Reflection and Realizations about Death and Importance of Palliative Care at the End of Life

The Hospice Volunteer Program has been a great way for me to learn about palliative end-of-life care that I was not aware of beforehand. I always thought of physicians as individuals who would prolong a patient’s life through any plausible means; however, I have realized that palliative care at the end-of-life can be better and … Continue reading “Reflection and Realizations about Death and Importance of Palliative Care at the End of Life”

Joy to End

Though my entire experience as a hospice volunteer has been a profound learning experience, my first patient was by far the most meaningful. I spent September, October, and most of November visiting June (I’ve chosen this pseudonym as it seems to best describe her character). Previously, I had witnessed hospice living during the late stages … Continue reading “Joy to End”