If you have read or kept up on my blogs by now you should know I use to be a Hospice volunteer for over five years. Probably five of the best years of my life as far as my own growth and soul awakening. I had to stop because it was getting to be too much physically and became even harder on me emotionally. The sicker I became the more I could connect to the people telling me their stories and for someone who is already highly compassionate and empathetic it wasn't a good mix for my health so I had to take a leave. When I first quit it wasn't so hard because I was working with my doctor to find the right dose of meds that worked to help me feel better and I had hoped my leave was going to be short lived, only a few months. Fast forward and here I am a few years later. Last year I finally asked to be taken off the list of volunteers. It was one of the hardest things I have ever done in my life but the right choice none the less. There isn't a day that goes by I don't miss Hospice and the patients. I still have a little glimmer/spark in heart that warms up when I think of being able to go back one day. I hope it turns into a flame someday. I tried to go back a few years ago and it was one of the worst experiences of my life. I was asked to visit a woman who was not doing well, what I thought, she isn't doing well, meant was she was close to death but the reality it was much worse. She was awfully depressed and a new patient. She cried a lot while I was there. She talked about leaving her children and was a horrible mess. She didn't want to leave them. My heart connected to her in an instant. I felt her pain so intense that I had to get out of the room as fast as possible. I know she didn't have a clue where I was as I sat and listened to her with my heart breaking and tears running down both out faces. She asked me why? why? I couldn't answer her. I think I have blocked a lot of that visit out of my mind because all I remember when I left was running to my car and driving out of that parking lot as fast as I could sobbing. I cried the whole way home and I think for a week after that. I cried for her, I cried for her family, I cried for the fact that I knew then and there that I was not ready to go back to my position as a volunteer, at least not for a while. Her pain became mine in so many ways which is not a good mix when you are a Hospice volunteer. I still see her from time to time in my memory files along with so many other patients and families that touched my heart and life.
Honestly, I think I may have written this a ways back in one of my entries so why write it again?
My Aunt died a few weeks ago and the memorial was yesterday. Her daughter read the eulogy and it was so touching to hear about my Aunt's life as a child. You must understand that when my mom was born she was a tag along. Her mother was forty two when she had her and my mom's brother who was married to this Aunt was twenty two when she was born. My Aunts and Uncles were quite a bit older than my mom so they came from a different time and place. As my cousin read the life story she came to her childhood way back when, my Aunt was ninety seven when she died so you can imagine what life may have been like in the early nineteen hundreds. She told how my Aunt's grandma lived with their family. My Aunt even slept with her grandma every night more than likely because they lived in a small home as most did back then. One morning my Aunt awoke to find her grandma dead, she died in her sleep. My cousin said that my Aunt talked about it, not a lot, but some. She said that death was a part of living. You were born and you died it was just how it was. Then my Aunt said she didn't remember feeling sad it is just the way it was. Just the way it was. hummm. My cousin commented on how much differently death is looked upon these days. It really made me think of how true that statement really is. Rich and I talked about it on the way home. Having the Hospice background I feel I can understand my Aunt more on her comment about her grandma dying, I don't remember being sad it is just the way it was. Back then people died young. Medical treatment wasn't like it was today so death was just that, death. Now days we act like we are going to live forever and avoid the conversation at all costs. Odd!
It would be my dream to have death be more of a good thing rather than a bad. Visitations that aren't so cold and awkward. People sad, for sure, but also people happy for the person who lived a life. The deaths of people who may have been here for a minute and then gone. People who were here to leave something behind. Their footprint on the world. I sure hope when I die it isn't all doom and gloom. It is what it is. We are all born and if you are reading this we all will die. Why don't we embrace it more? Why do we hide talking about it? Why do we shy away from people who lose loved ones instead of being there for them? I am educated in the Hospice world and have been to many hours of classes. I have spent countless hours with many dying people and I must say they are the nicest, kindest people I have ever spent time with. No fluff just love and appreciation for the time they were given. yes, many of them suffer as they talk of their loved ones, but in the end they are all thankful to have been blessed with this life and in the end with the exception of a few they are all ready to go. I hope in the end we are all ready in the same way. I hope we can leave here and know our loved ones and friends are happy in their souls that we were able to spend some precious time together and realize life goes on no matter what side you are on. Go leave your footprints on the world and make them good ones because they will stay in many hearts once you are gone!