Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Hospice Volunteer Inmates in Louisiana Prison (Video 4:17 mins.)

When you think about prison, what usually comes to mind? You probably imagine depression, fear, violence, and razorwire fences. And you would be right, but not completely. One example of expressed compassion in prison is demonstrated in the caregiving of inmate hospice volunteers who serve terminally ill inmates.

These volunteers provide comfort that may be missing in the lives of some prisoners, especially those who no longer have attentive relationships beyond prison walls. Many serving life sentences, including some volunteers, know they will die in confinement. Nurturing support given by familiar faces of those who have also experienced the prison system can enhance prisoners’ quality of life during the dying process.

This video titled “Will Anybody Cry When I Die?” shows hospice inmates helping a fellow prisoner during his end-of-life journey at the Louisiana State Penitentiary in Angola, Louisiana. Later, they prepare and honor him with a death ritual. Watching this video, you might find yourself feeling distant from negative aspects commonly associated with prison life. You might be feeling the love.

Frances Shani Parker, Author
"Becoming Dead Right: A Hospice Volunteer in Urban Nursing Homes”
Hospice and Nursing Homes Blog

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