An air of complete calm and quiet hit me as soon as I walked in the door of ProMedica Ebeid Hospice Residence. It was the strangest thing. I guess I was expecting typical hospital noises including loud conversations, call bells and intrusive intercom messages. But there was nothing but peace.
A friend had planted the volunteering seed in me over a year before that initial visit. And like many good things, it took some nurturing. I thought about it a great deal, spoke with a few close friends and read up on it.
Initially one of my greatest concerns was that I would end up reliving the pain and sorrow that I had successfully put behind me. I realized that I really knew very little about hospice, as my wife and I had not really been exposed to the program. But as I thought about all the negatives, I started to notice that my mind would be filled with good memories of all the kind and gentle things friends and staff had done for us during my wife’s terrible ordeal.
It had taken me nearly a year to get to that point and take the first step toward getting involved in such an emotional situation. But as soon as I visited Ebeid Hospice, I realized I was ready and it was payback time.
Although I’ve been a hospice volunteer for five years, I realized some time ago this is exactly where I belong. This is where I can all make a very positive difference in the lives of others who are in great pain. This is the opportunity to sit and listen, to hold a hand, to offer advice when appropriate. But more importantly, it’s the opportunity to hear what patients and families are trying to say.
Do I have thoughts of the pain I went through so many years ago? Of course, but those memories are much softer now as I realize that I am making a difference.
Chuck Owen is a Sylvania, Ohio, resident and has been a hospice volunteer with ProMedica Hospice since 2013. This is his fourth and final blog in a 4-part series on loss and grief.