What We Can Learn From Hospice

Earlier this year I began spending time as a Hospice volunteer. It's a wonderful program, and after about 9 months of being involved in it you'd think I'd be writing about what an amazing and beautiful experience it has been. And it has! But that's not what has captured my attention.

Even as far back as my initial training for this volunteer effort, I was struck by how much emphasis the Hospice staff puts on treating people with dignity and respect. The focus is on supporting, comforting, listening to, enjoying, appreciating, loving, and honoring the clients and their families. What an awesome way to treat people! So uplifting! I have total permission to go into my clients' home or room - people for whom I am a complete stranger! - and simply love them. The time I spend with them is entirely devoted to them and their needs, to helping ensure that their last few months, weeks, days, hours as a human being are as comfortable as possible, that they are as cared about as possible, and that they leave this earth feeling as proud of who they are and what they've accomplished as they can allow themselves to accept. It's a truly wonderful system.

But it makes me wonder .. why does a person have to find themselves at end-of-life, the end of the road, the place where all of medical science has given up on them, to become entitled to be treated this way? Why don't we treat each other this way all the time? Why don't we support each other, listen to each other, comfort each other, enjoy each other, appreciate each other, love each other, honor each other, allow each other to just be, all the time? Why is all that good stuff withheld from us until we have the least possible physical ability to appreciate it?

I've been reflecting on that question for quite awhile, and I don't know that I have an answer. Maybe we just aren't practiced at treating each other this way. Maybe we don't give each other permission to treat each other this way. Maybe we just don't take the time. Maybe all the rules we've developed to protect ourselves from each other keep us from even considering it. Maybe we don't believe we deserve to be treated this way. Maybe we don't have enough tolerance of, or can't find true compassion for, each other until we know there's no hope left. Maybe it's a combination of all those reasons and more.

Pondering all this has gotten me to see what life could be like if we truly valued and respected each other, regardless of who we are, what we've accomplished in the material world or not accomplished, or what we've done with our lives or not done with our lives. It really doesn't matter. None of that matters. Not in the least. We are all, each and every one of us, going through this amazing thing known to many as The Shift, and we're doing it together whether we are aware that we are or not. Every human being who is a human being today, who has ever been human, who will ever be human, has a part to play in the experiences of the race called human.

Each of us is an aspect of God, in that we are all equal. No one of us is any more, or any less, deserving of the dignity and compassion that we have proven we are capable of giving. And none of us is new to this game called being physical. If we had any clue what we've done in our past journeys on the planet, or in the far reaches of the multiverse, I think we wouldn't be so quick to judge, and maybe a whole lot quicker to appreciate. It seems to me it's in all of our best interests to remember that, and to treat each other with the compassion, love, and dignity that our status as true creators deserves. Spirit does no less, why should we?

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