Hospice is about the patient, not me
by Dolores Eckles, HPCCR volunteer
In March of 2011, I was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. I underwent Whipple surgery and spent eleven days in the hospital. On the second evening, I had a near-death experience. I was walking toward the Light, engulfed in peace and love. I knew when I reached the Light, I had a decision to make. The decision was “I am not finished here yet.” Bam! I was back in my body screaming, in excruciating pain, “I want to go back! I want to go back!” I did not know at the time why I was not yet “finished.”
About two months later, after reading Dannion Brinkley’s (whom I had met in Colorado) most recent book, Secrets of the Light, I had the answer. Dannion has been a hospice volunteer for thirty-three years. He founded the Twilight Brigade in 1997, an organization that has helped thousands of veterans cross over.
I signed up for volunteer training with Hospice & Palliative Care Charlotte Region this past year. I am working in a state-of-the art, ten-bed facility, spending time with persons who are imminent to transition.
What does being a hospice volunteer mean to me? It means supporting persons and families who may be confused, stressed, fearful and/or sad in this life situation. It means being respectful of the stage (according to Dr. Kubler-Ross) where the patient and family are in the process of grief, even if it means they have not gotten past the stage of anger. I believe we are all one in this human family, and it means continuing to fulfill my life’s purpose through assisting others during their difficult times.
I have known pain and depression; I can empathize with some of the emotions patients and families may be experiencing. I am part of an extraordinary team who find working in hospice their life’s work. Everyone cannot, or does not wish, to assist persons who are dying. I can, and do. I do not fear death. If the subject arises in conversation, I can be reassuring to the patient without trying to convince him/her. Hospice is about the patient, not me. It is reflective listening and being a loving presence in the patient’s life. Of all the volunteer work I could be doing, I choose hospice in which to make a difference.Explore posts in the same categories: advocacy, awareness, end of life, hospice, Levine & Dickson Hospice House, spiritual care, volunteering comment below, or link to this permanent URL from your own site.