I Became Best Friends with a Hospice Patient
Sitting in her wheelchair, Florence smiles up at Felicia as she carefully paints Florence’s nails with shimmering gold polish. Felicia then gently applies a light coat of lipstick to finish the look.
Florence Grant is a 94-year-old, non-verbal woman without any family in the area. In the care of The Denver Hospice, she was introduced to Felicia Kile, a volunteer.
Eight months ago they were strangers. Today they are best friends.
“The first time I meet a [patient], I’m always a bit nervous. Before I walked into Florence’s room, I said a prayer and took a deep breath. She immediately gave me a big smile, and I knew that this felt right,” said Felicia.
“I tell Florence that we’re BFF’s,” Felicia jokes. Holding Florence’s fragile hands in her own, she then went on to explain just how deep their connection runs.
“Although Florence is, for the most part, non-verbal, and although she has dementia, she understands much of the time. We have our own language. In life, you meet many people that touch your heart, but not many [who] touch your soul. Florence has become my dear friend and has been a beautiful, unexpected blessing in my life. I love her.”
Felicia Kile has been volunteering with The Denver Hospice for six years. This is the first year that she has volunteered with patients. Visiting Florence twice a week for the last eight months, Felicia bonded with her new friend over television and nail polish, like two companions who have known each other for years. They take walks outside, browse through photo albums and even pray together.
Florence’s room is filled with her paintings, photographs and meaningful antiques. Each week Felicia gets a glimpse into Florence’s past. Raised in Wenatchee, Washington, she moved to Denver in her 20s, where she met her husband of 34 years. She has two stepchildren and numerous grandchildren and great grandchildren. While her family cares for her from afar, Felicia has become Florence’s family nearby.
So of all of the volunteer opportunities out there, why did Felicia choose this?
Because she comes from a place of empathy and understanding.
Felicia lost her dear friend, who was cared for by The Denver Hospice. She also lost her beloved mother. Through these difficult experiences, she saw the positive impact that hospice care can have.
“The experience can be spiritual and beautiful. And the reward of volunteering for hospice is so much greater than the fear.”
Felicia also praises The Denver Hospice team that cares for Florence.
“Her CNA and social worker are always there to answer questions and concerns when it comes to Florence. They are just a quick text message away.”
Her advice for those considering volunteering for The Denver Hospice?
“Do it. This not-for-profit organization has a wide variety of volunteering opportunities, even beyond visiting patients and families. You will feel valued. It’s worth it.”
To learn more about volunteering for The Denver Hospice, please visit https://thedenverhospice.org/get-involved/volunteer-denver-hospice/.