The journey of hospice can be long. Especially working in the Big City of Birmingham. People are moving about the hospice journey day or night. Or after years of providing hospice care each patient would become routine. However, that is never the case.
Hospice is never routine. Every day is different. Every single hour. Every family is unique and so is their hospice journey which entails describes the hospice volunteer journey.
The experience although hospice attempt to prep families there are not enough words to describe what it looks like. Yes, there are text book things like pain management and vitals-which I’m a hospice volunteer coordinator so you must know that’s not my area of expertise.
I contribute to the hospice journey by bridging the gap between community service and selfless sacrifice. In order to bridge this gap I must be an active participant in the hospice volunteer journey. Anyways back to my point we have moved from promoting community service filled with selfless acts to a society that devalues its meaning.
It has become mandatory for students to volunteer. It is required to provide community service to graduate, get a job, or get in an exclusive club. In the process we’ve lost what it means to be a volunteer. To give freely of oneself to a task (with no expectation).
Individuals who become a hospice volunteer recognize early that their service is a selfless sacrifice. Why? The hospice volunteer must be willing to truly neglect their own life journey-while actively in the presence of their patient-to join their patients’hospice journey. The ability to give of themselves in this way is a choice. It has a great abstract reward if they are willing make the sacrifice.
In the presence of the dying-a selfless volunteer may experience a higher sense of self. Their senses become stronger and feel most alive. For example watching the patient breathe cause you to match your breathing; listening to a patient’s story causes you to hear every word every detail; rubbing a patient’s hand causes you to feel how soft, hard, smooth or rough their hands. Your senses are hyper aware of the things they see, hear, smell, feel, or even taste (personally I don’t eat around patients but this one time a patient made me eat cake, I swear it was the best cake ever.
It’s as if your entire being is recognizing the presence of death while becoming submissive to the qualities that define us as human and alive. In that moment the volunteer becomes a Quiet Observer of the intertwining of Death and Life all because of their selfless sacrifice and willing to embark on the patient’s hospice journey.
Now, this post was not written to diminish any volunteer activity. In fact it was the direct result of a good day at work. All volunteer service is good because it benefits an organization or worthy cause.
However, I challenge you, determine why you volunteer. What are the tokens you seek? Are you truly immersing yourself in the volunteer effort? If not why? What can you change about your community service that will ensure you and others give a selfless sacrifice?