My fears and resolve to help patients

Entering hospice volunteering, my aspiration was to refine my caretaking skills and deepen my empathy for patients’ needs. Yet, I grappled with daunting concerns about my own mental well-being and my perceived inability to provide comfort. I felt constrained, fearing I could only broach conversations about death, hindered by my lack of musical or vocal … Continue reading “My fears and resolve to help patients”

Lessons I’ve Learned from My First Year as a Hospice Volunteer

Throughout my experience in the Pre-Med Hospice Program, I was fortunate to form a bond with a patient whom I’ll refer to as Mrs. Anderson. Mrs. Anderson’s journey through life’s final chapters served as a poignant reminder of the intrinsic beauty and fragility of human existence. In the heart of the hospice setting, amid the … Continue reading “Lessons I’ve Learned from My First Year as a Hospice Volunteer”

Beyond Life

The patient (named “Sophie” in this essay for anonymity) and I have become quite close over the past weeks. Initially, “Sophie” was reluctant to speak but as days passed by, she started opening up and our conversations became lengthier. As she grew cognizant of my presence and my weekly visits, I felt the nature of … Continue reading “Beyond Life”

The Physician’s Role as an Advocate

During my first visit to the facility where I was assigned, the plan was to start at a random patient and cycle through the rest at equal time intervals. This plan went out the window as I ended up staying with my first patient that visit and all of the visits afterwards. When I entered … Continue reading “The Physician’s Role as an Advocate”

The Power of Storytelling

Throughout the hospice program I have learned more about death, myself, and the patients that I visited. One patient that has impacted my life is Lauren. She was always so happy when we would visit her. While some patients were moody or did not feel like talking that day, Lauren always caught sight of us … Continue reading “The Power of Storytelling”

Finding Life in Dying Times

I followed the Project Leader down the brightly lit hallways of the nursing home, beaming what I hoped was a warm smile at those we passed and anxiously gripping the lanyard hanging around my neck. It wasn’t my first time at a nursing home—I had spent two years volunteering in one during my high school … Continue reading “Finding Life in Dying Times”

The End-of-Life Journey as a Companion

Reflecting on my experiences as a volunteer with Ascend Hospice, I am moved by a vast range of emotions and sentiments: namely, grief for the patients I can no longer visit, gratitude for the stories I have had the privilege of unearthing, and compassion for the patients and families facing difficult decisions and experiences in … Continue reading “The End-of-Life Journey as a Companion”

Music and Healing

Beth, Alice, and I walked into the community room of the memory ward. An ornamented tree stood in the corner and colorful lights adorned the ceiling. The residents were just finishing dinner; those self-reliant enough were feeding themselves at the dinner tables, while the more disabled residents were being spoon-fed from their beds. Judy, a … Continue reading “Music and Healing”

Crucial Elements to the Experience of a Good Death

Throughout my time with hospice, I have learned a lot about patient care as well as about death and dying. One of the most important things that I have learned is the concept of “a good death,” which is the most important thing to understand as a hospice volunteer as well as a patient-oriented physician. … Continue reading “Crucial Elements to the Experience of a Good Death”