The following is an article written by RMC Erin Boquet for Caring with Confidence: Support for End of Life Caregivers, a blog of the Holy Redeemer Health System. You can find the originally published article here: Holy Redeemer Hospice Blog
Reflections of a New Hospice Volunteer – by Erin Bouquet
“You work in hospice? Isn’t that depressing to be around death?”
“Why would a young girl like you want to do something like that?”
“Does your school require you to volunteer to graduate?”
These are just a couple of the responses I have gotten when I tell someone I’m a hospice volunteer. Usually, these reactions are accompanied by a grimace or a look of pity, as if they’re wondering how I got roped into such an activity.
I’m completely new to hospice. I am also twenty-three years old, making me one of the youngest volunteers. When I began training two months ago, I did so apprehensively, wondering if I would be able to handle the sadness and death that I would encounter each week. It only took me a few days to realize that I would find even more joy.
There is an undeniable stigma that surrounds the idea of hospice. People think of suffering and tragedy, hoping they never encounter it themselves. I, myself, was guilty of shying away whenever someone brought it up. What many do not understand is that hospice is all about life and the preservation of its quality as its end approaches.
Hospice is about letting that WWII vet show someone his medals. It’s about helping a mother write her daughter a letter to have when she’s gone. Hospice is about letting a son run to the grocery store without worrying about his dad back home. Sometimes, it’s simply about holding a hand or whispering a prayer. That’s the beauty of it really – with each day and each visit, you find something new.
Two months ago, when somebody wrinkled their nose at my time spent in hospice, I would laugh it off or ignore them. Today, I smile and tell them that no, it is not a school requirement. A young woman like me can learn a lot in hospice. And it isn’t depressing, and it’s not about death. Really, hospice is all about living.
Erin Bouquet is a volunteer working with Holy Redeemer Hospice as part of her service as a Redeemer Ministry Corps volunteer. She is a Notre Dame graduate and is spending the next year with Holy Redeemer while she applies to medical school. Erin volunteers with hospice two days a week and has had the chance to visit patients in homes, nursing homes, and on our inpatient hospice unit.