This was the title of the talk I gave on September 15th at the volunteer’s orientation of Compassionate Care Hospice. It was an extraordinary occasion as hospice care is very close to my heart.

The orientation was prepared by Mrs. Wanda Garcia, The Volunteer Coordinator and started with some words of Mrs. Mimi Israel, The Executive Director.  She talked about the service they offer and the concept of a multidisciplinary approach because this is what hospice provides. They have a physician, a nurse, a social worker, a chaplain, and volunteers. They all play an essential role in the care they receive. The purpose of the volunteer is to add to the emotional and spiritual well-being of the patient and their families. I shared with the group that many years ago I had also been a hospice volunteer and how that experience impacted my life in a significant way. When we are attending a person who is dying, we enter a sacred space. It is intimate; it is personal; it is unique. We want to bring our love and care to this space as we want to make those moments special for the person. Death is a natural process and generally we don’t talk about it. We try to stay away from even saying the word death. However, it will happen to all of us and our loved ones.  It is essential to be aware of this reality and learn more about the services that hospice offers as it can really make a difference in your lives and the lives of those you care for. Many times, people who want to volunteer for hospice care have experienced this care with their loved one; others have not. In my case, I had never experienced it. Still, being a thanatologist (a person who studied death and dying), I learned about its value and wanted to open my heart to this experience.  It will always stay in my heart. I stopped being a volunteer because I had to start taking care of my beloved elderly mother.

What made me choose the title Transforming Yourself When Helping Others for my presentation? I picked it because I profoundly believe in the power of giving; in the power of helping others; in the power of volunteering.  When we talk about Hospice, is a unique type of volunteering. We are accompanying a person in their last days, in their last stage of life…their dying.  The moment we are honored to have this privilege…our life is transformed. We witness intimate moments.  Many times they open their hearts to the volunteer and share their most intimate thoughts and wishes. It is a blessing to be part of that process. When one is a hospice volunteer, one understands more about life after accompanying the dying. It is a very spiritual experience. If you feel moved to do this type of volunteering, listen to your heart and give yourself the opportunity to be transformed at this level. It will add meaning to your own existence.

I wish you a beautiful day and remember…your life has meaning!

Ligia M. Houben