As a hospice lead volunteer coordinator, I have the privilege of working with amazing people who do amazing things every day. These real life superheroes spend countless hours with our staff, patients and families, making a real difference in the final moments of someone’s life. Their super power is their ability to transform lives through compassionate care.
Caregiving in itself can be difficult. Ones desire to help, nurture and support a loved one at end of life is daunting. Most of the time, caregivers have made a decision to care either by desire, or necessity. In any case, unless they care for themselves, there is little they can do for their loved one.
Chanukah (Dec. 24-Dec. 31) is a holiday rich in Jewish history and traditions. Some refer to it as the Festival of Lights due to the lighting of Menorahs and the miracle relating to the oil. In the time of the Holy Temple, one jar of oil lasted eight days. This is also the reason for why the holiday lasts eight days.
This year, while I enjoy celebrating with family and friends and eating the symbolic foods of the holiday, including potato latkes (pancakes) and sufganiyot (fried donuts), I will remember a patient of mine who was a Holocaust survivor.
Several years ago, as part of a corporate walking challenge for hospital employees, I invited a Buddhist monk, Bhante Sujatha, to lead a group in a meditation walk at a beautiful nature preserve labyrinth. The labyrinth is circular in shape with winding paths that draw you back and forth until eventually you reach the center. It is said that the back and forth motion engage both sides of the brain and create a sense of calm, somewhat like rocking a child in a cradle or gliding through space on a swing. Because so many of us were making our way through and we all began at the same time, we regularly needed to move aside, as people passed us on the way back from the center.