Welcoming the Unknown, Discovering a Journey of Living More
When I met Linda Clark, a genuine passion for hospice is immediate and her enthusiasm overflows from within. She describes her own journey with Hospice this way,
“My hospice volunteer work became something that was more powerful, more guttural, more real, more special and more intense than anything I had done before.”
Considering that a variety of volunteer work was an ongoing part of her life since the age of fifteen, this is a powerful proclamation.
Linda’s entry into hospice work began by taking notice of a new construction site near her daughter’s home. As a hospice building materialized on the lot, so did her interest in volunteering for the organization. Symbolically, that groundbreaking construction site represents Linda’s philosophy about life’s journey, stepping into the unknown and unearthing rich and meaningful life experiences. Linda speaks of the courage needed to make such life choices this way,
“Sometimes in life, we’re suppose to open our hearts and jump in with both feet, just do it.”
And that is exactly what Linda did, beginning with a hospice volunteer training three years ago. Today, she is one of the trainers.
Linda’s belief and dedication to loving other people informs her volunteer work. The wish to share that love is what nurtures her spiritual growth and makes her feel useful in life, something she feels we all need.
She also knows that end of life journeys are personal, and that it is a privilege for patients to allow her a part in that care. Through this privilege, she feels doors open and moments of deep connection emerge. While reminiscing about a friendship that developed over months between Linda and one special gentleman, Linda talked of reading Shakespeare, listening to music, and offering him a caring hand to hold. These special moments shared between them created a bond of friendship, one that was short-lived, yet full of value. This experience inspired Linda to broaden her own definition of friendship, expanding it to include short-term interactions during the last months of life. She remembers her patient telling her, “It’s funny where you find friends,” referring to his precious time with Linda.
Whether it is a developing friendship or maintaining a vigil, Linda admits that her experiences with hospice have transformed her views about the universe.
“We think we know all the answers, but that is not the way my life is ending up, she says. I have found that it is more important to let the universe speak to you, instead of you doing all the talking.”
Through her listening, Linda has learned some powerful life lessons. She understands that people need support at their bedside, and that this universal journey of death connects us to one another. And, that each of us will die in our own unique ways and in our own time. And, by knowing our last breath is also beyond our control, she now chooses to control only her “small” life decisions, including those requiring a bit of courage.
Stepping into the unknown, as Linda did three years ago when approaching hospice, was one of those courageous actions, one that led to this simple epiphany,
“I’ve become a better me!” Linda said.
A better Linda, enriched by every one of her patients, each having bestowed gifts of hope, love, grace and beauty upon Linda at the end of their lives.
These beautiful spirits stay close to Linda’s heart today as she extends the comforting hand of a hospice volunteer, one who feels blessed to serve patients and families.
- Be courageous and embrace stepping into the unknown
- Value short-term interactions as meaningful friendships
- Let the universe speak to you