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Pathways Volunteer Stories
The Woman Who Comes to Visit Me
Daneen Pederson, Pathways Volunteer
When a patient’s daughter paid a visit, she noticed an Australian Shepherd, stuffed toy next to her mother’s bedside. When asked who gave her the toy, her 90-year old mother replied, “The Woman Who Comes to Visit Me.”
That “Woman Who Comes to Visit Me,” was Daneen, a Pathways volunteer, who had been visiting the patient for a few months. And, though the patient didn’t remember her name, she certainly remembered the comfort of a visit.
“That particular patient loved to talk – something not all patients can or do,” said Daneen. “It was a great opportunity to sit, and listen as she poured her life out to me. Each visit was a story hour and that is when I found out she loved animals, loved dogs, and had an Australian Shepherd.”
Daneen began volunteering for Pathways about five years ago. At that time, her goal was to add a more human component into her life. Daneen knew first hand how difficult it was to be a supportive caregiver when a loved one is faced with a major illness. Her husband, Rufus, had battled cancer and passed away last February.
“My interest in supporting dying patients began with a family member who was alone when he died. There is so much support in our society to help children come into this world,” explained Daneen. “I feel it is important to have that same kind of support for people who are transitioning out of this world. Birth and death are kind of the same thing, but at different times of our lives.”
Daneen has applied much of what she has learned as a hospice volunteer to her own family life. When it became clear that Rufus was near the end of his life, she relied on Pathways for information about how to involve her entire family in his care as well as honor his end-of-life wishes.
She was particularly grateful for the advice she received in how to explain what was going on to her grandchildren. As Rufus became more and more ill, the entire family gathered. The grandchildren were encouraged to do whatever they felt comfortable with in regards to their grandfather.
“The Pathways social worker provided me with some materials to read and share with my daughters,” said Daneen. “We used these materials as guidelines on how to support and help the grandchildren through this time. We agreed to have the children present if they seemed at ease. It turned out that the family was comfortable and the children weren’t afraid.”
Daneen continues to volunteer at the patient’s bedside and recently completed training as a vigil volunteer. She enjoys being with patients during their time of need. She knows that her visits bring comfort and a presence when no one should to be alone. Yet, she also acknowledges how her volunteer service has relevance to her own life.
“If you truly listen to a patient speak to you in a certain way, you will know what to do for them. Because of my experience as a volunteer, and the gentle guidance and support received from the Pathways hospice team, my family and I were able to take care of many of Rufus’ needs,” continued Daneen. “Although he was a stoic person, I used those listening skills to find out what he wanted. Toward the very end, we were all working together. And that was all he wanted.”
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Copyright 2010 Pathways. All rights reserved. Last update:
November 23, 2010