The Gift of Volunteering for Hospice
Author: Julia Hunt, Four Seasons Volunteer
The Gift of Volunteering
I recently heard that Jimmy Carter has chosen to go into hospice. When I heard this I said to myself, “What a gift it would be to be able to be his volunteer.” Of course, what is true for me is that every hospice patient I have ever had the honor to sit with has felt like a gift.
So often, when a person hears the word “hospice” fear is the first reaction. Oh, how I wish I could find the magic words that could immediately relieve that fear so that more people and their families could experience their end of life surrounded by friends and family in the comfort of their own homes.
This letter is to reach out to our community to share with you some of what I have reaped from being a hospice volunteer for nearly 25 years and to encourage anyone interested in doing the same to reach out to Four Seasons.
Opportunities to Volunteer
Volunteer opportunities are abundant in our community; there are so many in need. There are many different ways one can give back by working with Four Seasons. Volunteer opportunities include but aren’t limited to bereavement follow-up, office work, and working directly with patients. You can do what works best for you. I have chosen primarily to go into patients’ homes and help with life’s daily needs. These needs have ranged from shopping for groceries, cooking meals, cleaning rooms, reading to patients, sharing stories, and at times simply sitting next to a patient as they rest or sleep. Sometimes I hold their hands, sometimes read their favorite scripture, or simply exchange stories.
Is Volunteering for Hospice Sad?
I am often asked, “How can you do this? To sit with people who you know are dying must be so sad.” I would be dishonest to say there is no sadness; not many of us look forward to saying goodbye to our moms, dads, children, and friends. But coupled with that sadness is the opportunity for families to catch up, to finish conversations that were put on the back burner, or to finally say, “I’m sorry.” When patients are able to stay in the comfort of their own homes (or assisted living facilities that have become their homes) there is more freedom for these things to happen. Volunteers help these families keep their loved ones with them.
Being a full-time caregiver can be overwhelming. Having a volunteer come in once or twice a week for an hour or two can give that caregiver just enough energy to get through another day. Knowing that I can offer this reenergizes me as well. Being a hospice volunteer is nothing short of a win/win for both the families and the volunteer.
I walk into a home for the first time a stranger, but leave feeling like family. If you have been looking for a way to contribute to our community, please consider being a hospice volunteer. There is a great need in our area.