Last night was our scheduled orientation with the hospice group
that my husband and I are joining. It was bitterly cold, and the
moon looked blurry in the approaching snowstorm. Everyone had
warned me about doing this so soon less than a year after
my mothers death. And as I approached the hospital, shivering,
I wondered myself if I was attempting too much.
I really started to doubt what I was doing when the room number
I had been given turned out to be a restroom. But apparently we
were just in the wrong wing. Somehow we arrived at the correct
room on time, and the hospice chaplain greeted us with a wonderful
smile and a box of Fig Newtons.
My intuition had told me that this was going to be OK, but there
was no way of knowing for sure until the process began. The next
several hours passed quickly and I left feeling relieved, positive
Today, as I made space for the new manual on my desk, I was struck
with the thought, How in the world did I get here?
If someone had told me a year ago that in twelve months time I
would be volunteering for an organization that assists the dying,
I would have said, Sorry, but Im not capable of doing
that. Thats what I believed.
So what happened in the interim? Yes, my mother was in hospice.
I was tremendously grateful for everything that the staff did
for her. But I never considered joining them until a few months
ago when I was reading the local paper and a notice about a hospice
orientation jumped out at me. A few days later, another announcement,
in another publication caught my eye. Was someone
trying to get my attention?
As I considered the meaning of this unexpected interest in hospice,
I had a sudden image of my dad grinning at me. He never was much
of a grinner, but he was definitely grinning at me now. I almost
laughed out loud, and then I got it. I understood.
In the latter years of his life, my father was an active volunteer
in a variety of groups and was passionate about the importance
of volunteering. I have come to believe that each stage of life
calls forth from us the expression of gifts/talents/abilities
that we may have not had the opportunity to use earlier. Either
we werent ready, or the circumstances werent right
yet, or both. But when the Universe is aligned, the call goes
out -- unmistakable and undeniable.
And I now know Ive been called. My guess is that my experience
with my mother took away my fears of the unknown and allowed me
to explore my capacities to help her in her transition. I felt
empowered, and privileged in a way that I never have before. I
want to do more; to be able to give back and make a difference.
Of course, hospice service is not for everyone. But whereas I
used to be wary of the emotional vulnerability that comes with
saying goodbyes, I now know that there is also much that can be
done to offer relief and bear tribute to the process.
Thank goodness, were all called to do a variety of things.
I can only imagine the strength one needs in order to work with
abused children, assist in disaster recovery, do battle in a foreign
country, or fight any kind of oppression. Theres room for
all of us to make whatever contribution were most suited
Whats important is to listen. Listen for the
whispers of where it is that you feel most fulfilled. Listen for
the clues that tell you what to do next. Trust that if something
is for your higher good, you will be directed there.
Were told that this is the season for giving. Remember
to give to yourself first, so that you have the strength to give
to others. Then, give to family, friends, neighbors. And, if you
can, reach out to those who may not be fortunate enough to have
people around them at this time of year.
Im grateful for your presence in my life, and I wish you
many warm and meaningful moments throughout the holidays!
I have found that among its other benefits, giving liberates
the soul of the giver.
-- Maya Angelou