Lets (Not) Talk About Death

I love volunteering in hospitals, seeing patients light up as I bring books, drinks, or pillows for them. But volunteering in hospice is different. I have nothing to offer patients but myself, my presence, and my comfort. Even though many patients on the floor are terminally ill, the idea of death was brought up very … Continue reading “Lets (Not) Talk About Death”

The Present of Presence

Upon joining the Pre-Med Hospice Volunteer Program, I was asked the question: What happens when we die? Profound and spiritual answers flowed from my peers as if they had thought about this question every day. When the spotlight fell on me, I replied, “Nothing.” My intention was not to be rude, insensitive, or insincere. I … Continue reading “The Present of Presence”

Nature’s Course

Through this volunteer experience, I had less experience with hospice patients and more with palliative care patients. As I began looking into this opportunity at the VA, there was no distinction between hospice and palliative care. I fell victim of the social stigma associated with these branches of medicine, seeing them as simply a place … Continue reading “Nature’s Course”

How Hospice Helped Me Cope With My Sick Mother

This year has completely changed my outlook on medicine and the role a doctor should play in healthcare. I had a unique experience in that I was on both sides of the medical world: both as a hospice volunteer and as a family member of a sick patient. Shortly after I had signed up for … Continue reading “How Hospice Helped Me Cope With My Sick Mother”

The Role of the Healer: Medicine’s Lost Art

My time working in hospice care has been filled with important experiences, but I feel as though the relationships I developed with the patients were the most valuable. While there are a number of relationships I could speak about, I feel as though the experiences I had with a particularly challenging patient were the most … Continue reading “The Role of the Healer: Medicine’s Lost Art”

Remembering Lessons

It’s been almost a year since I received a message containing an opportunity to volunteer in hospice care, and I took a few months of thinking before I decided that it would be good for me. One night, I came home so late that my dad had already woken up for the day. I could … Continue reading “Remembering Lessons”

One Act of Kindness

Over the past seven months, my hospice volunteering has been an invaluable experience that has opened my eyes to an area of healthcare that many people tend to avoid. The end-of-life experience is a deeply intimate one and is packed full of emotions, both for the patient and their family. There isn’t much that can prepare … Continue reading “One Act of Kindness”

Shining a New Light on Death

When I started working as a nursing assistant at a nursing home, it became clear to me that death was something I was going to have to face as a medical professional, but I always tried pushing off the thought of dealing with it until it was absolutely imperative. Coming in to work and finding … Continue reading “Shining a New Light on Death”

Recognizing Death

Throughout hospice volunteer experience, I had many meaningful connections with my patients. The moment that I find the most memorable was when my coworker and I visited Michelle, a recently-admitted patient. When we knocked on Michelle’s door, she was obviously agitated. She immediately asked us what was going on. We told her who we were and … Continue reading “Recognizing Death”

The Last Hurdle of Life and Its Effects on Others

While serving as a hospice volunteer for the past few months, I have met several people in hospice along with their families. It’s interesting and exciting to listen to each person’s stories about their lives. One particular patient named Mary and her family changed how I viewed the end of life. Mary had been in … Continue reading “The Last Hurdle of Life and Its Effects on Others”