Hospice team finds joy in work

September 29, 2011|Hospice Helps

Special to The Herald-Mail

As the community relations director of our local hospice, I am often out in the community mingling with people at events and meetings.  

Over and over I hear comments about our hospice team: "I think it takes a special person to do what you do," "You people are angels," "I don't know how you do what you do," and "I could never do what you do."   

And I agree that our team members, who take care of patients, are extraordinary and very competent to do what they do. They are special people who are drawn to perform a service like no other.

However, what I have learned most from our team, and from hospice team members I have met across America, is they are unanimous in the belief that they are more blessed by their patients than their patients are blessed by them.  

It is not unusual to hear a volunteer say, "My life has been enriched beyond measure by the time I've spent with my patients. They've made my life fuller, lifted my spirit and added even more purpose to my life."  

One hospice nurse said, "It is a gratifying job in which I am sad only about 10 percent of the time. Mostly it is the joy of doing what you are called to do and then knowing the difference you made in the life of a family whose loved one you were privileged to care for."  

A chaplain added, "The terminally ill person is often isolated from others and tends to withdraw. I get the privilege of helping them tell their story and make meaningful sense out of their life reflections. I have met some of the most fascinating people and heard some of the most amazing stories in the world. I have added much to my joke repertoire as the sense of humor in the dying is often extraordinary."

The hospice staff who work behind the scenes are committed to their own mission of caring for the people who care for patients.

While they might never meet a patient face-to-face, they are privileged to support their co-workers who visit patients on a daily basis. If it "takes a village to raise a child," it certainly takes an entire hospice staff to care compassionately and thoroughly for their patients.

For many of us, we cannot imagine a career where we would be surrounded by those who are dying. But in reality, it is not a morbid occupation.

It is often filled with humor, laughter, sharing and open anticipation of what lies ahead, despite the pain and isolation that may accompany the journey.  

Our hospice team is not a dreary bunch but is lively, and  spirited and so enjoys the patients they serve.

Your hospice is probably in need of more volunteers to join the team. So consider this fulfilling avenue of service in our community.  

Our team promises it will be rewarding, and our community families will be grateful for the time you give to their loved ones.

Shelley J. Steiner is marketing and community relations director of Hospice of Washington County.

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