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Hospice adds vigil volunteer service

Published: Saturday, Nov. 17, 2012 1:15 a.m. CDT
Pictured are (from left) Serenity Hospice and Home vigil volunteers Susan Reed, Susan Davis, Jan Champley, Julie Hardesty, Jose Nieto, and Katie Chestnut. Photo submitted by Lnn Knodle.

OREGON – The possibility of someone being alone at the end of their life is more likely in today’s society because so many families are spread out. The dying person may have very few, if any, relatives living in the area. However, with hospice volunteers and death vigil programs, no individual has to die alone.

A vigil is a time of “watching over” another. These hospice volunteers spend time at the bedside of those who appear to have only a day or two to live. The guiding philosophy of hospice is caring for people with dignity and respect as they approach the end of their lives. The vigil program extends the mission by providing a presence during the actual moment of transition from life to death.

A vigil volunteer does not give hands-on care, but they do offer comfort, support and companionship. They bring the gift of a calming, peaceful presence to individuals who are dying. The volunteers will tailor their approach to fit the situation using one or more of the following: listening and talking, shared silence, reassuring touch or reading of inspirational text or scripture.

When family members are able to be present with a dying loved one, they often prefer privacy at this difficult time. However, they will find that a vigil volunteer’s presence can be helpful. They are knowledgeable on physical changes that occur within the final hours of a person’s life and can share this with family members to alleviate fear of the unknown. Additionally, family members can use the time a volunteer is present to step away for a meal, handle an urgent errand or get some rest. Vigil volunteers make it possible for family members to attend to their own needs knowing that their loved one is not left alone.

Serenity Hospice & Home has undertaken the commitment to provide these vigil services for its patients. A group of experienced hospice volunteers have undergone additional training to prepare them for standing vigil.

For more information, contact Serenity Hospice & Home at 815-732-2499.

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