Learning to Deal with Loss

My time volunteering with Ascend Hospice has given me an invaluable opportunity to work on a more personal side of medicine that is difficult for premedical students to obtain. As a hospice volunteer, I have been challenged to provide comfort to patients in extremely vulnerable positions, and to understand how much grief the patient and … Continue reading “Learning to Deal with Loss”


My Hospice Experience

When I first started hospice, I ended most of my visits feeling sad. It seemed like most of my patients were unhappy and felt trapped.  They complained about how they had nothing to do, wished to go outside, or wanted better food. Frequently, the patients couldn’t even hear me, so any attempts to comfort them with … Continue reading “My Hospice Experience”


A Century Old

Just last month, my patient turned 100 years old! I remember when I first met her, one of the first things she declared was, “I’m 99 years old!” Thinking about it brings a smile to my face. Now I think of her even when I’m not with her, I see her resemblance to the other … Continue reading “A Century Old”


Thoughts on Death: As They Remember Life

Occasionally, I am afforded opportunities to experience life in new and glorious ways. These experiences can either challenge me to change my conceptions or fortify my understandings of the world. Whenever I have the opportunity to do both, I am humbled and excited to grow more. This past year, I have experienced life through a … Continue reading “Thoughts on Death: As They Remember Life”


A Sunday Letter: Unexpected Things in Volunteering

Dear Chaplain, I felt most reflective when we sat in those Sunday circles and listened to each other. I am a private person, but the passage of the year and the solemnity of the other students heightened my comfort with sharing. Of course, your indefatigable positivity and openness certainly helped. For all these reasons, I … Continue reading “A Sunday Letter: Unexpected Things in Volunteering”


Reflections on Hospice as a Lived Experience

Death, with its shrouded mystery, is often anticipated to be an inherently profound experience. The call for hospice volunteers came with words like “demanding,” “emotionally complex,” and framed the experience as one where I would “help the patient navigate the process of dying.” These characterizations are not necessarily untrue of my volunteer experience. Yet more … Continue reading “Reflections on Hospice as a Lived Experience”


Listening

I originally sought out the Kindred Hospice opportunity because I wanted to learn more about death. It was foreign to me: all my other grandparents’ deaths came to me through my parents’ sad words. Both my classmates’ deaths had been sudden. I had little idea as a doctor what I would say to a patient … Continue reading “Listening”


Birthday Card

“Happy 91st birthday! I wish you a long and healthy life …” As I had been reading aloud all of the birthday cards that “Anna” had not been able to read due to her deteriorated eyesight, she stopped to comment at the end of this letter as she had with every other one. Usually, it … Continue reading “Birthday Card”


A Deeper Understanding

In the past, my friends would always joke around when trying to persuade me to take a leap of faith or do something outrageous by saying, “What’s the worst that could happen?” Immediately, I would respond with one simple phrase: “I could die.” Before working hospice, death was not a subject that I had ever … Continue reading “A Deeper Understanding”


New Perspectives

I read Being Mortal a few years ago, and reading it was one of the main reasons I wanted to start volunteering with Ascend, to gather my own information to form opinions on end-of-life care. Even before reading this thought-provoking book, I had often held long philosophical debates late into the night with friends whose … Continue reading “New Perspectives”