By Jennifer Duke
One of the first changes I experienced upon entering this path was a shift in perspective surrounding death and the dying process. I didn’t “work” or think my way to this shift, it just happened. I was Divinely changed from the inside out. All of a sudden I shockingly found myself completely comfortable with my own mortality and with the mortality of others, including my children and husband. They can’t relate to this lack of emotion about death. But my own comfort comes from remembering my origin, from remembering experiences of Divine Joy, and remembering that each incarnation provides opportunities to grow closer to that ultimate, Joyful reunion.
Around the same time I experienced this change in perspective, I felt drawn to volunteer with Hospice. I understood my new perspective on death meant I could offer calm, loving support to patients and their families during their stressful experiences. It wasn’t like I tried to find something new in my life. Service just appeared on my radar with loud, steady beeps.
Those beeps still sound loud and clear forming a constant message, “Serve. I have more than enough Love for you. Share.”
What’s amazing is the Joy I experience when following the beeps. Memories of inner Joy experiences provide some sort of inner drive and understanding that I must share what I receive. This has been verified in my service, for the Love I give comes back tenfold. I am being taught from the inside out, the Joy of serving.
Hospice volunteering appears different from case to case. It might involve supporting family members by staying home with their beloved patient so the family can go out. It might mean visiting a patient in a skilled nursing home which already supports them 24/7. Some patients can communicate verbally, some cannot. Although every case is unique, one element remains the same: My job is to connect with the patient, to comfort, nourish and be a trusted friend.
I’ll share my current Hospice case with you.
RJ is a beautiful, elderly man with degenerative heart disease and dementia. He has experienced multiple brain bleeds, is non-ambulatory and can only say “yes” or “no”. Developing relationships with patients who cannot speak is challenging. Yet, RJ and I have a beautiful friendship. I see the smile in his eyes when I walk into the room. I see the joy on his face when he feels cool breezes during our wheelchair walks outside. I see him relax as I massage his hands. And through those massages I’ve learned the power of touch to transmit Love. What I’ve really come to discover is the gift I’m being given. I’m being given the opportunity to serve. I’m being shown how to forget my little self.
“Life should be chiefly service. Without that ideal, the intelligence that God has given you is not reaching out toward its goal. When in service you forget the little self, you will feel the big Self of Spirit.”
– Paramhansa Yogananda