Why I Volunteer For Hospice

Guest Blog: Matt Harrison, Volunteer

While volunteering for The Denver Hospice, I was assigned a gentleman at a facility a couple years ago. He was a very successful businessman but he didn’t have any friends to visit him in his last days. He was very soft spoken and it was difficult at times to understand his words. I have always been a huge proponent of touch and I have received Reiki and Comfort Touch training.

When visiting him, I would get into the habit of holding his hands and using Comfort Touch to relax his arms and hands. He always appreciated it and it relaxed him very quickly. He was dealing with a lot of different emotions inside and was a very gruff individual. The touch seemed to change him drastically, at least when I was visiting. I recall one visit where his words shook me to the core, “I could die right now.” I assume that he was comforted and relaxed enough, to feel ready to go on to the next life. That was one of the most amazing things any patient has ever said to me!

I get asked why I volunteer for hospice, “Why and how do you do it?” I think most volunteers in hospice will say unequivocally — to provide comfort. If the only thing we do for a patient is provide brief moments, minutes, hours of comfort or peacefulness, then we have done our work well. Whether it be touch, reading, playing a harp, playing music, bringing in a dog, or singing all give the patient a few brief respites of peace in what can be a very emotional, painful time in the end of their life. I explain this to those who ask but I know for most they don’t understand how I do it or really why I do it. The human condition has such a huge range of emotional responses to internal and external forces and stimuli. If we as hospice volunteers can calm some of those forces, if even for just brief moments, we have done our part.

Matt Harrison has been volunteering for The Denver Hospice for 5 years, more than two and a half as an 11th Hour volunteer.

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