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Special Companions at the End of Life’s Journey

Journeying with those preparing to go home to God is one of hundreds of ways that our Sisters and Associates try to be a healing presence today

For many years, a number of our Sisters and Associates have been special companions to those passing from Earthly to Eternal life. They each recognize the sacredness and mystery of this time in a person’s life. Each in her or his own way, offer their physical presence, their care and compassion, and their prayers, trying to be fully present to the person who is approaching death.

One such companion is North American Medical Mission Sister Denise Elliott, who has worked with hospice patients for some time. At Action AIDS in the 1980s, she witnessed many suffering people who were isolated from the structures meant to help them. But she also recalls, “I came away…enriched and more at ease with how people die, and at the same time, growing in my understanding that each death is as unique as each person.”

She shares, “I remember well the first time I just sat breathing in rhythm with a person who was in a deep coma. The experience of connecting with not only that person but life itself was, and is, a profound ‘knowing,’ of experiencing God.” For Sister Denise, being involved with hospice “is a way to stay close to this final incredible mystery.”
A social worker who has an MSW Degree from Temple University, and who once worked as an Assistant Administrator in Calcutta House, a hospice for men with AIDS, Sister Denise says, “another gift of being a hospice volunteer is availability to family members who are also traveling a new uncharted path. I am so impressed at how so many families unselfishly share home and time and energy to be there for their loved one who is dying.”

“Being part of hospice, accompanying a person who is dying, is a pure gift. It is for me a deep renewal of my belief in life, of my faith that love is God and this love is eternal.”

September 1, 2012