Every year, millions of Americans die from illnesses such as heart disease, cancer, stroke and diabetes. And every year, roughly 400,000 hospice volunteers help many of these people through their last few months of life.
When someone is dying, friends and family sometimes pull away, afraid of what is happening and at a loss for what to say. A hospice volunteer helps fill that gap by being a companion who understands the process of dying and provides compassion, comic relief and conversation. They also work as a part of the hospice team to keep patients as pain free and comfortable as possible while providing support for them and their families during the dying process.
I loved being a hospice nurse and after I retired I wanted to continue to be involved. I began volunteering with Liberty HomeCare & Hospice five years ago and it has been a truly enriching experience.
It is cliché to say that hospice volunteers get more blessings from helping patients than we give, but I am sure all volunteers would agree that this statement is true.
I have met wonderful patients and families, had the honor of sitting with unresponsive patients and praying silently at their bedsides or reading scripture to them. I have been able to bring little extras to patients, such as a favorite piece of candy, a puzzle, a book, hand lotion or grits prepared-to-order! I’ve participated in a patient’s favorite activity, such as refilling a bird feeder so they can continue their bird watching from the window or porch. And, I have been able to give overburdened family members a chance to do errands and a sense of reassurance that someone is sitting with their loved one and not alone.
These are all small and simple things that anyone can do – no expertise needed. However, without volunteers, these things wouldn’t be done. They are essential to the hospice program.
People are inspired to volunteer for a variety of reasons. Whether you’ve had a family connection to hospice care and want to give back, or are interested in learning more about how to support and comfort those in their final days, I encourage you to explore this truly rewarding volunteer opportunity. I believe others will find the same satisfaction I have by giving a little time to hospice patients and their families.
To learn more about ways you can volunteer with Liberty HomeCare & Hospice visit our website.
Liberty Hospice Volunteer / Raleigh, N.C.