It’s About Living
Sometimes I stop at the store on my way home from work, still wearing my uniform, and the clerk will often see the word “hospice” written there, and remark upon, or sometimes ask, about how hard it must be to do this kind of work. They look into my eyes, expecting something, sadness maybe, pain, or weariness.
I look back into their eyes, and smile, then tell them with real feeling, that I believe hospice is about life! I say that the people I take care of, and their families, are very much alive. And that I concentrate every day on life, on joy, and on these human beings, who are not dead. Hospice isn’t really about death, it’s about living.
I go to work every day and smile, laugh, tease, touch people, give hugs, sometimes kisses, and I try to celebrate the life force and spirit that drives every one of us, whether we’re 9 or 90. All of us die, every one of us, so what really matters is how we live, and that we do live. And that we understand that to be human is to share the most profound common experiences we can with one another, and to try to find meaning and connection in them. Some of the most powerful moments in my life have come from being with people who are supposedly dying, and those who love them. It humbles me, seeing and feeling the love humans are capable of.
So if I can bring even a moment of kindness, warmth, respect, or yes, even laughter, to these people who may be in pain, who feel lonely, afraid, or often, embarrassed that life has brought them to this point, I feel so good inside. I feel joy. And joy is contagious!
People ask me how I can work in hospice and I smile at them and say “how could I not?”