Connection Through Hospice Work

| By Jodi Horton

Written by Carol Miller, Social Worker

It seems I’ve been involved in work focused on death, dying and grief pretty much since I landed my first job out of college.  In my first “life” I worked as a paralegal in the world of estates and trusts.  During those years I also experienced two very devastating personal losses (the death of my son Matthew 40 days after his birth, and the following year the death of my second son Daniel two days after his birth).  Those personal losses led me to an amazing group that supported parents who had experienced pregnancy loss, stillbirth and infant death.  The groups were an invaluable part of my own grief journey, and several years later I volunteered to help co-facilitate the group.  Being able to give back in ways that I had previously received comfort, nurturing and support became part of my evolving transformational process.  Once my MSW work was completed, it felt like a natural evolution to apply for work in a hospice organization in the D.C. area.

But as “natural” as it may have seemed, I’m not certain I was fully prepared in those early years after graduate school to give in a way that my patients, families and bereaved clients most needed.  After a few years, overwhelmed by a personal health crisis and the work itself, I left that hospice to open a private practice in Northern Virginia.  Funny thing though, the bulk of the clients who walked through my doors as individuals, couples or families were dealing with loss and grief, whether from the death of a family member or friend, the loss of a relationship or job, or some other significant loss or transition.  I stopped fighting and gave into the process, allowing my “family of grievers” to take me on many an amazing journey as they found their own healing and, sometimes, profound transformation.

So once again, when I found my new home in Tucson, it felt like a “natural fit” to seek employment in the world of hospice.  This time, however, I believe I have matured into the work in a way that had not been the case earlier in my career.  And part of that newfound maturity means knowing there are always new things for me to learn, new wisdom to gain—from my patients, families, clients, colleagues and hospice friends.  A researcher out of the University of Houston Graduate College, Dr. Brené Brown, says “We are wired for connection.”  And perhaps this is even more profoundly true when we are facing our own death or the death of our loved ones.  Hospice is one of the places that I experience that “connection” on an ever deepening level.  My constant hope and prayer is that my patients, families, clients and others may find that connection as they move along this end-of-life path as well.

Casa de la Luz Hospice provides hospice care and grief support in the Pima County area. For additional information about how we might assist you or a loved one, call 520-544-9890.

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