Hospice is about the patient, not me

by Dolores Eckles, HPCCR volunteer

near death lightIn 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

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One Comment on “Hospice is about the patient, not me”

  1. Jim Brinson Says:

    Outstanding article Dolores and thanks for sharing. I know you are a great support to many people.

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