"May you live all the days of your life." - Jonathan Swift
I knew a man who entered hospice care after a long courageous struggle with an unrelenting disease.
Some of his friends, he told me, protested his decision, wondering why he would choose hospice when he seemed so "healthy," particularly when compared with how he felt during the various treatments that had extended his life by several years. To them, it seemed he had given up the battle, that he had given up on life.
The man explained to his friends that he hoped to live many more months and that it was important to him to form trusting relationships with the hospice staff - the nurses, social workers, chaplains and volunteers - who he anticipated would become a progressively larger part of his life in the weeks ahead.
While he didn't think of himself as a religious man, during his final months, he welcomed conversations about life's meaning and about what he hoped for in the final days and hours of his life.
Once, I told him that I admired his forthrightness and courage, and that I appreciated what he was teaching me about how I might someday face my own death.
After I spoke, we sat quietly for a moment. Then he smiled, a man who had spent his long professional career serving others, acknowledging that he had done so once again.
This blog entry was written by Dennis Sparks, Arbor Hospice Volunteer. You may contact Dennis by commenting below or emailing him at firstname.lastname@example.org.