In 2010, I became a hospice volunteer.
My mother had died of a brain tumor five years earlier at age eighty-seven. I saw being a hospice volunteer as a way to express my gratitude for my mother’s compassionate hospice care and to help other caregivers to weather a loved one’s passing. And, as a former reporter and writer, I thought I could help people to write their life stories, if they were interested.
In short, I wanted to act on E.M. Forster’s words, which for me sum up the goal of hospice: “Only connect.”
I soon realized, though, that by the time most people come to hospice, they’re too ill and/or too demented to carry on a conventional conversation, much less to express complex thoughts about the arc and meaning of their lives.