Posted tagged ‘Jim Young’

I stepped away from wisdom

May 18, 2016

by Jim Young, LDHH-H volunteer


Volunteer Jim Young

Maybe some of you remember me. But maybe this is the first time you have read anything from this site. The first blog I read from HPCCR brought tears to my eyes, and since then I have cried many times from the words that were written by so many wonderful people – words of honesty, love, and conviction.

Hospice moments are filled with raw and honest emotion. As someone who has stood in those moments countless times, being there can be both rewarding and frustrating. But to be honest, the most frustrating part of hospice for me was the frustration of stepping back – or in my case stepping away from – this wonderful organization.

I volunteered with HPCCR for six years, and in August of last year, my personal plate got rather full. I personally felt I could not commit one hundred percent to a patient assignment, so I stepped away. And in doing so, I stepped away from wisdom.

Wisdom has always inspired my thoughts and my actions, and it was wisdom that always led me to writing about my feelings about hospice. When I left HPCCR, the words left too. This is the first time I have been able to put words to paper, to express the feelings of my heart.

Lately I’ve been feeling that there can be light in death just as in death there can be life.

Allow me to explain. Life in death can mean acceptance to a hopeless outcome, clarity to confusion. Life in death is moving forward, carrying that loved one in your heart.

Light in death is when life simply transitions from a physical presence to a spiritual one. Light in death is finding the peace you are so desperately searching for, the beacon calling you to embrace the joy and the sadness of life meeting death.

I think that is why I’m being called back– to embrace the joy and sadness once again. It was God who led me to HPCCR in the first place, and it is God leading me back there now.

If that isn’t divine wisdom, then tell me what is.

Faith as guidance

July 16, 2013

by Jim Young, Levine & Dickson Hospice House – Huntersville volunteer

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAMy son recently got married.  What a joyous event it was! I was so proud of my son and daughter-in-law as they stood before God and claimed their heartfelt love to each other.  I guess you could say they put the cart before the horse, though, because they also announced they were going to have a baby.  It took everyone by surprise, for sure, but we were all on cloud nine (especially the parents of the bride and groom), excited not only for the newlyweds but also for ourselves as we thought about becoming grandparents for the very first time.

It is amazing when you receive such news as the upcoming birth of a child.  I found myself dreaming of a grandson or granddaughter, embracing future excursions, and having conversations about anything and everything.  I was at the top of the world knowing that our family values and heritage would go on. I looked forward to talking to my grandchild about the people in our family they would never meet in their lifetime and explaining how the love that these people carried in their lives is now carried in the hearts of those who remember them.

So much to share, so much to embrace.  But it was not to be because yesterday my son informed us that they had lost the baby.  In one brief moment, our world suddenly came crashing down.  One second everything was fine, and then everything went the other way.  I could not hold back the tears when I heard the news.  I cried not only for the loss that my son and his new bride were now enduring, but also for what was not to be — the bonding of love, a new life in a parent’s arms, two souls embracing feelings that go far beyond our humanity’s comprehension.  Now that tiny piece of creation is lost.  What could I say to ease the pain?  What could I do to help soothe the sorrow?  I looked for the answers to these difficult questions and the only place where I knew to look was inside in my faith.

Because I volunteer for hospice, I thought it would be easier to handle this loss of life.  I guess you never really know how you’ll handle something like this until it happens to you.  How I wished this was all a bad dream; that I would suddenly wake up and it would be all over.  But in reality, the truth is sometimes very difficult to accept.  Accept it we must, though, if we are to ever find any closure to the heartache we endure with death.  I truly hurt for my son and daughter-in-law as I pray for God to take this pain from them and give it to me.  Anything to ease their hearts.

How many times in hospice have we seen life taken too short or too tragically because of an unforgiving foe like cancer?  How many moments have we missed because a loved one faded away from life too early?  How many times have the whys overwhelmed the hopes and prayers of someone before hospice was called, a move that brought some clarity and peace to a painful diagnosis?

Difficult moments, some passing very quickly, and others feeling like an eternity, motivate us to find a solution to all the pain and heartache, and in the end, our faith may be the only hope we have in finding the peace we all seek, and want, for everyone involved.

Our faith is unique indeed.  Each person searches for answers to questions about life and death, but our faith is guidance.  It was this wisdom I shared with my son, assuring him that their faith will carry them through this tragic loss.  Just as my faith will carry me.

It eases my pain knowing my son and daughter-in-law both look to their own faith for guidance, and they will lean upon their family for comfort as we all grieve the loss of someone we will never embrace in this lifetime.  I know in my heart that my first grandchild, who never took a single breath, is waiting on the far side of eternity with all of our families and generations before us.  In the end, we will all carry this child in our hearts in remembrance.  Until then, rest peacefully, my grandchild.  Rest in peace.

Toot toot! (that’s our own horn)

April 30, 2013

by Andrea Powell, HPCCR Electronic Communications Manager

HPCCR Pete Brunnick (who accepted the award for Dr. Hess) and Jim Young, HPCCR volunteer

HPCCR CEO Pete Brunnick, left, (who accepted the Physician of the Year award for Dr. Hess) and Jim Young, the AHHC Paraprofessional of the Year.

You know, every once in a while, we just have to toot our own horn.  It’s simply unavoidable, especially when we have such an amazing group of staff and volunteers.  In fact, in just the past few days, we’ve had THREE  folks from our organization recognized for their awesomeness.  So, of course, we have to share.

Yesterday, at the Association for Home & Hospice Care (AHHC) Annual Convention, our very own Dr. Philip Hess was recognized as the Physician of the Year.  And our wonderful guest blogger and LDHH-H volunteer extraordinaire, Jim Young, was recognized as the Paraprofessional of the Year.  (That’s a trained aide who assists a professional person.  Yeah, I had to look it up too.)  And last Friday, Tricia Ingle, one of our certified nursing assistants, was given the title of CNA Caregiver of the Year for Gaston County.  We couldn’t be more proud of all three.

Dr. Hess has been making an impact in our community for over 35 years.  He was one of the first physicians in the region to successfully perform heart transplants, and had a long career in cardiac surgery.  Luckily, he came out of retirement in 2008 to join HPCCR as a full-time physician and has been championing patients and families ever since.  He is kind, gentle, warm-hearted, and confident.  He is both brilliant and compassionate, a must-have combination for a hospice physician.  The perfect choice, in our minds, for Physician of the Year! 

A self-described “tenderheart”, Jim Young is a volunteer known for his empathy and care.  He is deeply moved by all patients he visits (and especially by their stories), internalizing their life lessons and striving to improve himself through what he’s learned.  Jim is also a resource to others, having recently become our very first volunteer mentor.  And all of you loyal Hospice Matters readers are well aware of his outstanding contributions to this blog.  (Because you hang on every single word of every single post that shows up in your inbox, RIGHT?!)  Paraprofessional, volunteer, whatever category you want to place Jim in, he always rises to the very top! 

Tricia Ingle is a CNA with our Hospice & Palliative Care Lincoln County team.  She has been a dedicated CNA for 40 years — that’s a long career in anyone’s book!  What makes this award so cool is that she’s only recently been providing care to patients in Gastonia.  Yet during this time, she has obviously made an impressive impact.  Why else would she be named CNA Caregiver of the Year for Gaston County?  And the award apparently carries some weight — the Bojangles she frequents in Gastonia gave her a free lunch when they found out!

Yep, we are simply tickled that these three fine individuals received such well-earned recognition.  But now we’ve sung their praises so I guess we can stop the tooting now.  (Of the horn!  The horn!  Geez, you guys are worse than my kids!)

Rest easy, old pup

February 28, 2013

by Jim Young, HPCCR volunteer

Titus, the beloved family dog

Titus, the beloved family dog

Over this past weekend our family had to make a difficult and hard decision.  We had to put our dog down.  Even though Titus was only an animal to some, he was our friend, our companion, and a great protector to all who knew him.

Titus had the best disposition of any dog I have ever encountered.  He was unselfish, kind, and he never growled or snapped at guests in our home.  He was always glad to see you, and he had an uncanny knack for making you feel better when your day seemed to be going south.   Even though he was a gentle giant, Titus was a pup at heart, and he showed his zest for life until his last few months.  Then he just had no more zest to give.

His illness was an almost immediate change.  The whole family knew there was something wrong with him, but because we loved him, and because it was Thanksgiving (and the beginning of the holidays), we asked Titus to hold on a little longer. 

It made me think: how many families have asked their loved one to hold on a little longer?  How many times has the love been too great to let go?  Hope is a wonderful thing to hold on to, but when it comes to suffering and death, where does hope end, and reality set in?  I think if we all searched our feelings, we’d find that there is no right answer to that question.  Because the burden of death is different with everyone, and I too (at points during my life) have held on to hope that inevitably wasn’t there.  Love can blind us; our own personal greed makes us hold on to someone we truly love even while they are slipping through our grasp.

I guess that’s how we looked at our beloved dog.  We overlooked his pain and suffering to hold on to him a little longer.  We ignored the hurt he was carrying inside.  But his prognosis continued to dwindle to a point where our selfishness could no longer justify delaying what needed to be done.

I stayed with him through the whole process.  I slowly watched him find peace and slip away into death — something so many families have done with a loved one under hospice care.  The moment when death takes hope away has to be one of the hardest moments we have to accept in life.  As I sat there on the floor with my lifeless friend, I not only cried for the loss of his life, but I also cried for the loss in mine.  Death has a tendency to take part of us with it; it creates a hole inside us that had been filled by someone we loved.  It’s a space that sometimes only time can heal.

Time is one thing that can never be taken for granted.  It has a way of making us all wiser, even our youth.  This is what my 23-year old son wrote shortly after Titus’s death:

“Part of living a full and meaningful life means making decisions that are often emotionally difficult.  Today we lost Titus, our beloved german shepherd of the past 11 years, to this harsh reality.  While I mourn his loss, I find peace knowing he no longer has to suffer with an illness that had taken over every aspect of his life.  I cherish the fond memories I had with him and find even the pain of loss to be a comfort in itself; it is through grief that we truly realize the impact a lost one has had on us throughout our lives, and Titus has certainly left his mark on our family. Rest easy old pup.  We love you.”

Titus loved the snow, and on the evening following his death, it snowed three inches. Was it just coincidental, or was it God’s way of sharing our loss, reminding us that love never truly fades away?  Each of us has a memory of a loved one who has gone on before us.  It might be the scent of rain in the air, or the feel of a gentle summer breeze on our face.  It could be a certain song that plays on the radio, or just the tranquility of a silent moment that brings a memory of someone who once graced our lives and can never be replaced.

I promise you, Titus my friend, it will be the snow that will always remind me of you.  As my son said, “Rest easy old pup.  We love you.”

Sacrifice for the sake of love

May 29, 2012

by Jim Young, HPCCR volunteer

Sacrifice for the sake of love is a noble cause indeed.  Love can drive us to do things we never imagined we could; it is the power of love that gives each of us unparalleled strength to face the extreme perils that life sometimes throws our way. 

As far as I’m concerned, our greatest peril in life is death.  It is life’s instinct to hold on when facing death, yet here is where the sacrifices are made.  Someone who is dying sacrifices their own fear and sadness to bring calm to a desperate and confused loved one who is filled with panic and even anger.  A loved one sacrifices their hope and prayers in acceptance of the truth that life will have to go on without a person who has, and always will have, a special place in their heart.

Sacrifice is not giving up; it is actually the contrary.  Sacrifice is compromising for the sake of the other.  Sacrifice is, and shall always be, for the sake of love.

I recently purchased a Lady Antebellum CD that includes a song called “As You Turn Away.”  The more I listened to this song, the more I realized that some of the lyrics tie in with the concept of sacrifice made for the sake of love.

“Standing face to face
Wrapped in your embrace
I don’t wanna let you go
But you’re already gone

Nothing more to say
Nothing left to break
I keep reaching out for you
Hoping you might stay
One step my heart breaking
One more my hands are shaking
The door is closing
And I just can’t change it

Nothing more to give
Nothing left to take
I keep reaching out for you
As you turn away”
In hospice, sacrifices go beyond the patient and their loved ones. Nurses and aides sacrifice a part of themselves as they work feverishly from night to day to battle pain, nausea, and confusion while at the same time bringing comfort and reassurance to the concerned and despaired. 

In fact, sacrifice is made at all levels in a hospice organization.  From the executives that plan and institute policies and procedures, and the staff who coordinate fundraisers and events, to the volunteer managers who use their hearts to pair volunteers with patients and families.  Volunteers themselves sacrifice their time as well as their reluctance — they cross that threshold into a world that most would say they don’t have the heart or the strength to cross.

I too was one of those people who thought that it would be impossible to volunteer in a world filled with death and sadness, and I was very reluctant to take my first step.  But after making that first step, I realized that what I had stepped into wasn’t just death and sadness; I had also stepped into life.

In hospice, death unfortunately may be the end result, but it is the sacrifices given towards life that drive this amazing organization.  The pains and struggles with life are sacrificed for comfort, the confusion and doubt are sacrificed for clarity, and ironically, hope for life is sacrificed for peace.  That may sound devastating for some – that hope is sacrificed for death – but hope (to me) is a good ending.  So if peace is achieved in death, and there is no more suffering or pain, shouldn’t that be our hope for this loved one?  It is this sacrifice of hope (for life) that allows families and friends to reassure their loved one to go on towards death without them, to give from their hearts all that is required.  All for the sake of love.       
We can learn so much if we just take the time to observe and listen, and in hospice I have listened not only to the voices of the patients and their loved ones, but have observed the caring and determined staff of HPCCR who do whatever it takes to find the only hope in death – peace.

I have listened to God more in the last five years than I have my entire life, and in these years of learning and growing, His wisdom is constantly guiding me to unseen horizons.  He has guided me to an organization like Hospice & Palliative Care Charlotte Region, one that truly gives all that is required, all for the sake of peace. As long as there are people willing to make sacrifices for the sake of humanity, God’s love and wisdom truly shines upon the world.

Musings about life from the experience of death

May 3, 2012

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.

Just ask Earl

February 14, 2012

by Andrea Powell, HPCCR Electronic Communications Manager

We all know what today is, right?  Wait, were you going to say Valentine’s Day?  Because I wasn’t.  I was going to mention that it’s the second day of Random Acts of Kindness Week. 

You see, in the world of end-of-life care, it’s the little gestures that matter.  It’s a nurse trimming the fingernails of a patient, a social worker finding a recording of the song that a couple first danced to at their wedding.  It’s a nursing assistant gently bathing a patient, and a chaplain honoring the end-of-life religious traditions of a Buddhist family.  It’s these random acts of kindness that the families remember when reflecting on a good death; they are what prompt families to say that their experience with hospice was peaceful and beautiful. 

Over the past two years, we’ve written about many random acts of kindness.  Remember Lonnie, who had never been to a Panthers game?  Remember the many people who rallied to give him a wonderful day to remember?  How about the Angel Band who took the time to find the words to an old hymn that a patient at LDHH wanted to hear because it was the one her father sang at her mother’s funeral?  Can you recall volunteer Jim Young’s awe at the “restaurant-quality” peanut butter sandwich that was prepared for a patient at LDHH who had a sudden craving?  And these are just examples of the kindness shown to our patients. 

Hospices around the country, and even around the globe, have fundamentally wonderful staff members who go out of their way to bring a smile to a patient’s face when they know the patient needs a “pick me up”.  Just yesterday I read an article and saw a video (click on the picture below to see it yourself) about a Heartland Hospice patient, Earl, who was reunited with the dog he had to give away once he moved to long-term care.  Letting go of Teddy, his beloved pet, completely broke his heart.  The adorable dog was given to Earl several years ago by his now deceased wife.  Teddy was their child. 

You really need to watch the video to appreciate the impact this reunion has on Earl.  As soon as he sees Teddy, he starts sobbing and he can barely keep it together to talk.  His social worker, who arranged the meeting, explained that Earl has been really down lately and she wanted to do something to give him a lift.  “He’s grieving a lot of things. And I thought if I could put a smile on his face, just temporarily, it would do him some good.”

And that’s what Random Acts of Kindness week is all about– putting a smile on someone’s face.  Now that I think about it, maybe that’s why Valentine’s Day fall within this week.  But here’s an idea: instead of chocolate and flowers today, how about instead do something thoughtful to make someone smile?  It’s free and will make you feel great.  And you might not realize just how much your act will be appreciated.  Just ask Earl.

Click on the picture to watch the emotional reunion