I've always been intrigued by the idea of doing some hospice work in my free time (although because of my job there is next to no free time, but we'll see) and recently contacted one of the local hospices round here. I am going round for a cup of coffee tomorrow morning and know that it may take me a very long time to participate in all the required workshops, before I can actually do anything of use, however some of you have been doing this kind of work for a longer period of time already....and I guess there's not such a great difference between death in Germany and death in the US....
maybe our Grim Reaper wears Lederhosen for all I know (although let it be said that Lederhosen are a Bavarian phenomenon for the most part....where I come from they find them just as exotic as you do).
Any personal experiences, anecdotes, Do's and Don'ts, links to sites with good material on how to do hospice work, ALL that would be greatly appreciated.
Thank you for your help.
My wife Mina and I have been hospice volunteers for about 5 years. We go to the care center, feed patients who can't feed themselves, fetch blankets, talk to people who want to talk. I sure others who do it will attest that it can be amazingly uplifting work. It is one of the highlights of our week, and now that we are going to be in Japan full time, I will miss it (I am not sure that we can do that kind of work in Japan, so we may need to find something else).
My wife and I work there about 4 hours each a week. Almost every week has a story I could relate. Like the fellow who wanted me to watch a baseball game with him on the tv (I am not a baseball fan myself). He told me that he stopped following baseball season by season or even game by game because his time is short, and now follows it inning by inning. He said he soon would have to just follow it pitch by pitch.
It is also a good chance to face some things we resist, like death and pain and all the sights and smells the body produces. But, you know, real medical professionals face that every day. Somehow, it just becomes perfectly natural.
By the way, it is STRONGLY encouraged that everyone at Treeleaf do volunteer work as their Samu Practice. It should be something "hands on" helping people, and even something you resist a little like working with the sick or needy. Of course, if you are absolutely swamped with work and taking care of your own family, that is your Samu. But if you have time, please consider volunteering in your community. Please look here ...
http://treeleafzen.blogspot.com/2007/05 ... nteer.html
Sorry I am not expressing this so well ... just crawled out of bed and have not had that morning tea.
As Jundo said, it is amazingly uplifting to help out those in need when you can in whatever way you can.
I haven't done hospice work, but since the early nineties now I have been collecting second hand clothing and bolts of fabric and sending it to the needy in the Philippines. It is genuinely rewarding to see that the old clothes and scraps of material are being put to good use by those who would otherwise not be able to have them.
I started doing this in Oz back in 1991, sending over second hand clothes and rags, then early last year I started sending over second hand kimono, yukata, and bolts of fabric from Japan. My wife has been a tremendous help in organising postage from Japan, so we are able to send over larger shipments than what we could from Oz.
On a recent trip to the Phils we gathered some people with seamstress experience and now we are using some of the bolts of fabric to make cushions, blankets, and clothes to hand out to the needy. It is hard work, it takes a lot of effort and time and often eats into our wallets - but nothing can beat the smiles on the faces of those in need when they receive clothing and furnishings that they so need.
It is as Jundo says, uplifting work to help out others in need - and in my opinion it is the reason we are such an intelligent race, we have the capacity to love, to show compassion and assistance and to give comfort to those in need.
So yes, I second Jundo, get out there and help people in anyway you can - be it your own family and friends your immediate community or a community in a less well-off country. Sponsor a child, help with your local clean-up sweeping the streets, visit the needy in hospice care, volunteer at the Red Cross - in helping others we help ourselves as we are all one.
I inquired into volunteering at a local hospice a couple of weeks ago and hope to be doing it over the summer.
I went to Los Angeles to be with my father for the winter season because he had initially been diagnosed with a terminal cancer. I went through all of the thoughts and feelings surrounding losing a parent. Also, facing the deterioration of his body, which was about 112 from 160 lbs.
I also began to focus on death in general. My death, his, everyone's. At the time all that mattered was me and my father right then. Love right then. It was a very bright time because I could take care of him.
Then he went through a bunch of procedures. There was no cancer found. So, no foreseeable death. But, now he is in a very weak state and degenerating and no one knows why.
Still, I don't hold the view of death my family does. It's not something I plan to turn away from. My culture is so fantastical and exotic with its attitudes toward death-- it's a very weird way to handle something so pure and natural. Why not benefit from a relationship with it?
So, I can identify with the motivation to do hospice work. I feel that I am in need too, and the relationship is reciprocal.
Hospices are great organizations. My mother-in-law died a few days ago and hospice nurses, social workers, aides, chaplains and volunteers all made it possible for her to stay in her Assisted Living apartment until the end. She was surrounded by friends and family. They did everything possible to make sure she wasn't in pain.
We are so removed from death, it is difficult for many to let their loved ones go. Hospice does great work helping families work through the process and experience death as we were meant to experience it--as part of a community, not warehoused in a hospital.
Hans, I think that it is wonderful that you want to be part of that.