Hospice Taught Me Life Lessons that I couldn’t Learn at School or Through a Book

During National Hospice Month we will make it our mission to crush many myths about hospice. Today one of our high school Volunteers shares how her perception of hospice changed once she learned what hospice really is. Hospice is care designed for patients with a life-limiting illness. Hospice is not where you go to die, rather hospice professionals are trained to assist patients in living their lives fully, creating more moments, and without pain until the end of their lives. Read on to hear what Emily has to say about hospice.

When I’m asked, “What does hospice mean to you?” I tend to struggle to find a concise amount of words that will cover everything that I feel about hospice. Those who do not know much about hospice would tell you that hospice means, “end of life care” and though they are right, there are many different aspects of hospice that most people don’t know about. For example, I think there is a misconception within hospice having a negative connotation … the negative connotation of death. To me, hospice doesn’t mean death. On the contrary, hospice means living–in the most comfortable way for the time that a patient has left on Earth. I believe hospice means quality of life, not quantity of life.

No matter how long a person has left in this life, whether it be six months, one month, or two years, hospice will help ensure that a person is peaceful and has a better quality of life. To me, hospice is one of the largest acts of good that a person can be a part of because it allows one to be part of something bigger than themselves and I’m glad that I’ve gotten to experience this first hand.

I still remember sitting in my Health Occupations class during my sophomore year of high school and listening to a Heart ‘n Home Volunteer Coordinator teach us about hospice. I remember hearing about the history of hospice and the difference that teenagers, like myself, could make in our community by becoming a Hospice Volunteer or Cicely Ambassador. That was the day that I decided to become a part of the change. I became a Volunteer that next summer and was assigned my first patient–which became my one and only patient for almost two years. At the beginning of my Volunteer journey, I was nervous and a little scared. Being in the world of hospice was a new experience for me. I had never even dealt with a death in my family–I didn’t understand truly what death was. I, like many others, saw death with fear and hostility. Once I began to visit my patient, I realized that death wasn’t meant to be seen as a negative element. It’s a natural part of life and hospice is a service that helps make the process a more comfortable one. Sadly, there are many patients that don’t have family or friends that are close enough to visit them and every person in this world needs a friend. They need a person to listen to them. As a Volunteer, I wanted my patients to know they were heard, cared for, and valued.

My first patient was crucial to my understanding of meaningful relationships and my sense of self-worth. Every time I visited my patient he was happy. I never saw a frown on his face. He taught me a lot about happiness and getting through rough times. Even if I had a bad day, I left his house with a smile on my face. It was hard not to smile after being around him! He always reminded me to keep doing well in school and to not let little things upset me. It was with this patient that I really realized the good I was doing. Not only did I feel it, but he would always remind me. By being a Volunteer my junior year and a Cicely Ambassador my senior year, I’ve learned how to be a leader, how to communicate, and how to have a greater sense of empathy for others at the end of life. I know that being a part of the Heart ‘n Home organization, I’ve learned several life lessons that I will carry with me throughout life during my future endeavors. I have a lot of pride in this organization because it has taught me life lessons that I couldn’t learn at school or through a book.

Emilly P., Heart ‘n Home Cicely Ambassador Volunteer, shared what she has learned from being a Hospice Volunteer. Hospice service helps thousands of patients and their loved ones through one of the most emotional times of life. Hospice Volunteers offer extra support to hospice patients. They are the added bonus, the little extra something, and the cherry on top of hospice services. If you are interested in learning more about the life-changing experience of Volunteering, visit our website at www.goHOSPICE.com.

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