As volunteers listen, hospice patients find comfort
Listening in a non-judgmental manner may be the greatest gift you can give to someone who is nearing the end of his or her life or has a loved one whose life is ending. I’ll never forget one of our long-time volunteers, Sarah, because she understood the value of listening. She was quick to sign up for almost any task, but her favorite activity was sitting by the bed of a hospice patient, engaging them in conversation and just listening to whatever they wanted to say. Sometimes it was talking about the past and memories of joy. Sometimes it was sharing sorrowful thoughts about the end of life. Other times, it was just discussing the weather.
Whatever the topic, Sarah’s listening made her patients and families feel worthwhile, appreciated, interesting and respected. It built their self-esteem. And, as Sarah was always quick to point out, she learned more when she listened than when she talked.
AseraCare volunteers perform a variety of functions, but their role as listeners may be one of the most valuable. Listening is one of the most important skills a hospice volunteer can use, because their function is to first meet the needs of the patient, family or caregiver.