June 22, 2018
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‘Exquisite privilege’ to serve the dying

Courtesy photo | BDN
Courtesy photo | BDN
Brittany Armstrong Gordon
By Pat Eye, New Hope Hospice

The National Hospice and Palliative Care organization describes hospice volunteers as the “heart of hospice.” Volunteers come from every walk of life. They bring with them their own life experiences and a sincere desire to make a difference in the lives of others. Patients and families have human and practical needs that hospice volunteers are particularly suited to meet. They have excellent listening skills, are nonjudgmental, flexible and compassionate and are integral members of the hospice team.

When asked what it meant to be a hospice volunteer, Bangor resident Brittany Armstrong Gordon of New Hope Hospice shared the following:

“As a hospice volunteer, I am in a unique position of helping people — including myself — to find meaning in both living and dying. It is an exquisite privilege to be welcomed into a home and a family at the vulnerable time of a loved one’s dying process. I am a nurse by profession, having worked in an acute care hospital environment. Such a setting, while providing an absolutely vital function, often provides precious little time for nurses to give undivided ‘tender loving care.’

“My role as a hospice volunteer allows me to focus directly and unreservedly on the emotional and spiritual needs of my patients and their families. I can be fully present to the people who have entrusted themselves to my care. This role allows me to examine my own values in life, many of which come to bear in the care that I give. Sometimes just sitting with a patient or providing respite for family caregivers is appreciated beyond words. These are simple acts that can have significant influence for those receiving them. As a hospice volunteer, I truly receive more than I give, and am grateful to my patients and families for this. I hope to help others live and die in comfort and dignity for a long time to come.”

Are you interested in training as a hospice volunteer? Contact your local hospice agency for more information.

Pat Eye is the director of New Hope Hospice in Eddington.

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