Today was orientation to the Social Work program. Surprisingly I found it quite informative. There is an externship opportunity over winter break I am interested in (if I can make it happen before we leave for Chicago), I am interested in the social work student association along with a few other odds and ends things I heard about as well. I think I have already mentioned this but I am really interested in and looking forward to the trip to the capitol next semester on advocacy day. I have a feeling that will be a highlight of undergrad for me.
They covered a lot about the internship senior year which I appreciated as I have had questions that so far have gone unanswered. Also one of the professors that specializes in the field of study I am getting my minor in presented today. I am setting up a meeting with her soon to pick her brain about the field and her experiences.
So, unrelated, Monday I worked my usual morning shift at Hospice however, there was nothing usual about it. I am a patient care volunteer which means I work directly with the patients and their families however, I made sure to get myself cross trained on the front desk so I can cover when needed. Of late there has been a need which has found me at the desk quite a bit. Fine with me, I like doing both.
Monday I came in for the patient care shift and found that the front desk volunteer was unable to come in which led to me working the desk instead. Again, fine with me. I was informed that the executives would be touring the facility in the afternoon, this would be the first time this has happened. I was excited. I know many of the executives thanks to my time working in the executive offices. I ended up staying past my shift to cover the next shift as the person who was unable to make it in for the front desk shift that morning was actually scheduled for a double that day. It worked nicely because, as I expected, one of the executives making the rounds was my executive. 🙂 I got to catch up with my old boss. It was nice to get some face time, let her know what I am up to and just check in with her.
Another detail that made Monday different was my finding out about a particular patient that had passed the week prior after my Monday shift. News of a patient passing in itself is not unusual given where we are, it was this patient that made the difference.
When I first started with Hospice other volunteers talked about how sometimes it can be emotionally taxing, particularly when it is a younger patient that passes. I have experienced that first hand now. I cannot share any particulars other than to say this patient was younger than me. I have been thinking about how I feel about the news of this patient passing and I have not figured out how to put it into words yet. I am sad and feel for the patient’s family but when I think about how I personally feel it is hard to explain. This patient was doing OK, to the point of being discharged the at one point thanks to an upswing in health. I came back the next week and the patient was back. The patient still seemed alright though, wanting to sit up in bed, being able to hold conversations. I had multiple interactions with the patient and the patient’s family my last shift before the patient passed.
This is all still new to me and this was the first patient that actually caused me to pause when I heard the news of the patient passing. Whether it’s right or wrong it is true ( for me at least) that it does seem a bit sadder when a younger patient passes. At the age I am now I feel like my life is just beginning and it doesn’t seem fair that anyone should be gone so soon.
I think what surprises me the most about myself since becoming involved with this organization is the level of balance I have been able to keep. Before I started I felt that even though I am a sensitive person I was strong enough to be able to handle this experience. So far I have been right. It is sad at times and I completely understand why many people are taken aback when I tell them where I volunteer but it is a good fit for me I think. I have enjoyed being a comfort to others even if it is in some small way like making them a cup of tea or just listening for a while. And, up to this point, I have not gone home from a shift in tears.
This has been the most meaningful volunteer experience to date for me. Aside from the fulfillment I get from the work itself, it has been validation for me to know that I can have a tender heart and sensitive disposition while still being strong and capable. I knew this about myself but at times others have doubted me which I am sad to say occasionally caused a little self doubt to creep in. Most importantly about this validation though is that this is me validating myself not seeking it from the outside world. I knew not only that I could do this but that I would be good and helpful where help was needed, and I was right. I don’t need anyone to tell me I am doing well, I know I am making a difference.