“Because connection matters”
I first discovered hospice in the late 90s, after my mom and grandpa spent years taking care of my grandma at home all by themselves – right up to a day before she took her last breath and they got scared and took her to the hospital. It had been agonizing watching what they went through to keep her home all that time with no help. Then for her – and us — to spend our final time together in this very foreign place left me feeling “it could have been kind…it could have been spiritual…it could have been beautiful”.
It was shortly after that, I heard a speech about Hospice by Susan Goldwater, the wife of the late senator Barry Goldwater, and immediately became a committed hospice volunteer working with patients. I got to see deaths that were all the things I had wished for my grandma. I truly believe those early experiences with hospice helped me discover my authenticity, what is truly important to me, and how important the feelings of belonging and being needed are.
Today, I get to spend my professional energy helping people create that sense of community and connection as a hospice volunteer coordinator. If I had the means, it’s work I would do for free. Yes, having the gift of a volunteer makes a huge difference to our patients and families, AND being that gift makes a huge difference to our volunteers. For me, it’s like when I reach deep inside to really “be present” for another, it’s like I also figure out how to be present for myself and my own life.