Musings about life from the experience of death

by Jim Young, HPCCR Volunteer

Over the last several weeks there have been certain moments that have taken me down memory lane. These walks back in time have been very pleasant and yet sometimes troubling because I have had to face certain truths of my past; moments that have been locked away in the farthest reach of my mind. One of the more pleasant memories was triggered by our world famous volunteer manager, Misty Molloy, with the upcoming birth of her son.

I was not able to make her baby shower, so I brought the baby gifts to the volunteer appreciation dinner at Levine & Dickson Hospice House.  As Misty was opening the gifts, God’s wisdom helped me realize that we were celebrating life amidst death.  It took my thoughts back almost twenty-three years ago (which seems like only yesterday) when I held my own son in my arms for the first time, admiring how fragile life begins, and realizing that birth is the vulnerable state into which we enter this world.  As infants, we have to depend on all the people that love us until we get old enough to help ourselves.  In death, we come back full circle to those people who love us and will help us through a very difficult time.  Both situations are on the opposite ends of the spectrum of life, but the needs are still the same.

How amazing is this loving care.  I don’t believe  it can ever be given enough credit.  And the people who are willing to help in someone’s time of need ask for nothing in return.  It basically comes down to compassionate hearts connecting, and finding the strength to help a loved one reach the edge where life meets death.  This journey towards death can be a difficult, but can anyone imagine how difficult it would be to make this journey alone?

With Hospice & Palliative Care Charlotte Region, no one has to make this journey alone.  Even if there is no loved one to help, the staff and volunteers step in like family to bring reassurance.

When someone you love is dying, there is nothing about this journey that is easy.  But sometimes, holding on to those memories of better and healthier times helps us find the strength to bear the burdens that are placed on us.  Anything can trigger these reflections of the past to the present, and in the time I have volunteered for HPCCR, I for one, have embraced those memories. 

Maybe it was those memories that helped me step up to help hospice.  My mother’s death was very tragic, and I personally felt she faced death alone – even though we were all with her in those final days.  There was no hospice there for her; no one there to help us cope with her condition or her death.  And for many years after her death, there was no peace.  At least not for me.

I can’t tell how long I struggled with her death.  The sad part about it was that the grieving process became a state of confusion because we never found comfort, and our family was left with only more questions when she finally died.  And that is what differentiates HPCCR – their mission is not only to bring comfort to the patient, but to bring understanding to the patient’s loved ones.

Andrea talked about hope in one of her articles, and hope for me is truth.  When there is truth, a family can have a grateful memory in the face of death.  That’s because everyone involved can make the best, and the most, out of every moment life has left.

I wish I could take the credit for a saying I heard recently: “When a person is left in the hearts of those they leave behind, one truly never dies”.  That wisdom teaches me that my mother did eventually find peace, and therefore so have I.  To anyone who reads this, I hope and pray you find a memory of a loved one who meant everything to you, and that you know they still live in your heart.  Because love truly never dies.  I promise, that one memory will last forever.

Explore posts in the same categories: awareness, end of life, grief, hospice, Levine & Dickson Hospice House

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One Comment on “Musings about life from the experience of death”

  1. David Bayer Says:

    A wonderful read Jim … well worded and so very heart-felt. I find myself in total agreement with your quote, “When a person is left in the hearts of those they leave behind, one truly never dies.” Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

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