At 8:00 A.M. on September 15th, a dozen or so Friends of Hospice baby boomer board members, and their friends, showed up at our soon-to-be hospice house. They were there to tear out a houseful of carpets, but it had been a long time since any of them had done this job. Each volunteer came with doubts and questions: “I really have no idea what I’m doing,” thought one. “Surely someone else could better carry out this task.” Another wondered,“How am I going to feel the morning after? I suspect that I’ll be hurting.” Yet another asked herself, “Do we have the right tools? What are the right tools for this job anyway?” Despite all of their questions, they showed up and completed the job. This challenge, what we refer to as “Demo Day,” serves as a bit of a parable for our work in hospice – and in life, for that matter. Sometimes we simply need to trust in the process and simply show up.
New hospice volunteers often feel ill-prepared and ill-equipped to accompany people in the final hours of life. All kinds of questions arise, but in the end the volunteers need to be reassured that they’ve ventured a long way toward the goals of hospice by just showing up at the patient’s bedside. Their limited skills can enrich the lives of both the patient and their loved ones. Each and every day volunteers perform miracles simply by showing up at a bedside.
Doubts and questions regularly confront each of us as well. A loved one is facing death, and we ask ourselves: “Will I be of help, or will I just make things worse?” “What if I say the wrong thing?” “I feel as if I lack the skills to adequately accompany people at the end of their lives.” “Certainly others could do a better job in this situation.” When faced with these situations, like those boomers, we need to just show up. Simply your physical and emotional presence can allow for loved ones to have what we term “a good death.”
Sometimes, after we show up wonderful things happen, almost in spite of ourselves.
Guest blog by Bob Ingalls
Friends of Hospice Board President