You would think people would want to volunteer for hospice for the sheer pleasure of being of service.
I have found over the years that the variety of reasons for taking the course are as varied as the individuals we serve in hospice.
One volunteer wrote:
I am currently in nursing school and have realized that I do not have a whole lot of experience with death or grief. I believe that if I want to be the best nurse I can be, I need to understand completely what death is about, and how I can help family and friends to cope with their losses in a positive way. This training has taught me many things. The most helpful was what to say and not to say to family after a loss. I also enjoyed the video of “Joe,” looking for answers for his terminal illness. Death is a part of life and I feel more prepared to discuss it, and learn from it
What is your reason?
Is it because you want to give back after receiving services for a loved one?
Is it because you are trying to understand how to help others who have gone through loss?
Are you seeking a career in the medical field and looking for additional education?
Please post why you have chosen this path of service. I am always fascinated by the people who give of their time to make sure others have what they need when the “patient” can’t help themselves.
Thoughts on why I would like to become a Hospice Pet Therapy volunteer.
I have often thought about death and the process of dying as a great unspoken mystery. My mother’s father died when I was in 4th grade, her mother when I was in 8th. My paternal grandparents passed when I was much older, married and living in another state. As a child, my aging pets were simply taken to the vet and never came back home. The end of life “just happened,” somewhere far off and disconnected from me.
But in 2008, both of my dogs died; one in a car accident and the other euthanized after a long life of 16 plus years. In 2009, a newly acquired dog was also hit by a car and killed. Through this unexpected sequence of events, I experienced a profound sense of loss and an intense understanding of the passing away of the spirit of the being. For the first time, I carried a lifeless body hard to my chest as I ran up the driveway sobbing, hoping to discover that which I knew to be so was not, that my boy was gone. And I slow-danced with my girl in my arms, enveloped in the arms of my husband while our vet and close friend administered a pre-death anesthesia for her to “sleep away” before the final injection would take her from us for good. And I tenderly wrapped my third angel in her blanket and laid her in the ground while the rescued puppy whom she had “raised” sat yards away, watching forlorn and confused. I was becoming aware of death in an intimate way and I didn’t like it.
And then in 2010 my mother-in-law’s health began to fail. Eventually, my 89-year old father-in-law could no longer care for her; she was admitted to a nursing home facility and at last hospice services were provided. I sat with her for many hours in her final two weeks. I watched the dying process, fascinated by the predictability of what the literature said and the reality of what I witnessed. I stroked her hair, held her hand, listened to her nonsensical mutterings and irregular breathing. And I was calm. I knew it was ok. I knew she was gently leaving us. I watched my father-in-law kiss her on the lips every time he left in the evening. I saw the power of 65 years of living as one transfer into the effort of being just one left living. And yet it was not horrible. It was inevitable.
My father-in-law has since reinvented his life. At 91 plus years, he is active, he has a cat, he goes out with friends. And that abandoned puppy has grown into a handsome, self-confident dog with a tender soul. Though he is only four, Coyote’s eyes are old and deep. He, too, understands loss. As I sit at the edge of my porch, gazing into the woods and to the river beyond, he leans into me and I wrap my arm around his solid body. And we sit in silence. He is a dog that understands the unspoken. He is a therapy dog.
As a Pet Therapy team, if Coyote and I can bring comfort to those who are about to journey into the woods and across the river alone, or to those who must sit and watch from the porch, unable to go along, then we will have gained more from the death of our loved ones than we have lost.
What is your reason for taking online training?