Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Hospice Volunteer End-of-Life Vigil (Video 1:58)

The body knows when it’s time to slow down and die. Each body will die in its own way and in its own time when the process starts. The importance of being with a patient who doesn’t want to die alone is the reason many hospice programs are providing specialized volunteer vigil training. When it comes to patients, it is more about the volunteer being there than what the volunteer actually does. The patient senses and appreciates the volunteer’s presence. During vigil training, a volunteer is taught how to provide bedside support during the final days and hours of a patient’s life. Assistance for families is included. This can be an overwhelming time for patients and their families because so much of the experience is unchartered territory.

At some facilities, staff members also volunteer for vigil assignments. Vigils, which are based on a patient’s wishes, can include talking, praying, inspirational reading, playing music, performing rituals, touching and, of course, sharing silence. Vigils may last hours or days and can be done in shifts. Reflecting the hospice philosophy, volunteer vigils help provide the patient with a more peaceful end-of-life experience.

In this video, Doris, a hospice volunteer at the Hospice of Western Reserve shares her hospice experiences that include end-of-life vigiling with patients actively dying:

Many healthcare staff members who work with dying patients will tell you they have had patients share stories about seeing dead people, ghosts, spirits they recognize, and angels. View this post for my personal story and an informative video:

Frances Shani Parker, Author
Becoming Dead Right: A Hospice Volunteer in Urban Nursing Homes is available in paperback at many booksellers and in e-book form at Amazon and Barnes and Noble booksellers.

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