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”

Reflecting on a Year of Service

Throughout this academic year I have visited a single patient, who I will refer to as Henriette. At first, our visits were somewhat awkward, and I did not feel like I was connecting to Henriette in the way I wished to. She was verbal, responsive, and could carry a conversation for the most part. However, … Continue reading “Reflecting on a Year of Service”

Reflecting on “Being Mortal” and Embracing Discomfort

A couple years ago, I picked up Atul Gawande’s book, Being Mortal, on a whim. I was looking for something to read on the train on the way home for Thanksgiving. I started reading the first few pages to see if I liked it, and ended up reading in the library for over an hour … Continue reading “Reflecting on “Being Mortal” and Embracing Discomfort”

A Frienship in the Past

I’ve always seen death as an event. A sudden heart attack. A phone call out of nowhere. An isolated instance in which any forewarning, preparation or prior consideration of death is rendered meaningless. I saw it as a destructive force, pushing everyone and everything out of its way. Then I met Sophia. I remember clearly … Continue reading “A Frienship in the Past”


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”