Special from the Jefferson County Journal

The Hospice Volunteer knocked on the door of her patient’s home. The door was opened by a woman in her 60’s dressed to face the day, purse in hand. “I’m so glad you’re here!” she said. “Dad is sleeping right now, but he’ll be awake soon. He likes to look out the window at the bird feeder … and then would you read the Bible to him?”

The Volunteer stepped into the main room where a hospital bed was set up facing a picture window. In the bed, she saw a diminutive shape covered by a colorful, knitted afghan. As the Volunteer stepped closer to the bed, the occupant slowly opened his eyes and smiled.

“Good morning, Dad! This is the lady I told you about who is going to be with you while I go to my appointment and do some shopping. I’ll be back right after lunch.”

There are two undeniable, unavoidable, facts of life. We all are born. We all will die. Hospice programs help family members understand, prepare for, and support each other through a final illness. With sound medical advice, Hospice helps families make the choices that are right for them. When death comes, they continue to care for family members in their grief.

Jefferson County has 10 Hospice workers who Volunteer to help terminally ill patients live out their final days. It is a special calling for a person to be willing to sit with terminal patients and to comfort them in their last days on this earth. Many patients have family members that travel this road with them; others are alone and are very appreciative of the care and comfort given to them by their Hospice Volunteers.

Volunteers are drawn to this calling in different ways, but the most common experience for them is witnessing Hospice in action at the bedside of a loved one. A Jefferson County resident experienced Hospice care of her mother and what she saw made such an impression on her that she became a Hospice Volunteer herself. Her husband, a pastor, is also a Volunteer and has served as Chaplain for the organization.

During the height of the Covid crisis, this dedicated couple continued to provide in-home patient family care. They could only enter homes and care facilities following strict protocols, which included Covid screenings for themselves and their patients. Another Volunteer function they assist with is a vigil. When death is imminent, someone is there for them 24 hours a day until their passing. The family knows there will always be someone with them for comfort and for prayers.

For this faithful couple, all their hours are not spent at a bedside. They organize other Volunteers in creative ways. At Thanksgiving they made colorful fabric turkeys, embellished with things for which they were thankful, to adorn patients’ doors. In July, they made red, white, and blue boxes. Throughout the year they’ve put together and distributed Covid Care packages. All these gestures of kindness to the patient and their families give the message that they are not alone in this process of death.

When Hospice enters the scene, there arrives a resource of endless ideas and information. When families are feeling lost and vulnerable, the strength and love Volunteers bring sets the family on solid ground. These helpers are not afraid of grief and have the honor of accompanying a person through to their last breath. Thank God for these Angels of Comfort.

Volunteers reaching out – the Jefferson County way.

If you would like to know more about Hospice, call Kelly Williams at (850) 566-7485.