Non-dental Volunteering Opportunity-Hospice- by Peter Thomas, D.D.S.
I am recently retired from a 40+ career as a solo family dental practitioner. Performing instrumental and vocal music has always been a passion as well as a welcome balance to dentistry. About 8 years ago, I joined a small vocal group, www.JourneySong.org, whose mission was to offer the healing power of vocal music to folks who were dying. As part of credentialing, I trained as a hospice volunteer and learned about the huge shift away from how people died in the 1960’s to now when palliative care, pain control, and quality of life is becoming the standard of care. Preserving “life” or prolonging death is less of a goal particularly when a person’s condition is terminal.
At this point in my journey at 71 years of age, I deeply appreciate the generosity of spirit and the commitment to comfort the dying that all in the hospice movement share. Parenthetically, when my mother neared the end of her journey in this life, it was natural to invite hospice to help care for her.
Music touches us in deep places and when we sing, sometimes folks who are unresponsive will open their eyes, smile, and mouth the familiar words to some of our songs. Oftentimes my eyes fill with tears of gratitude and connection with the stranger in the bed or wheelchair who shares this journey we call life.
If you are looking to expand your consciousness beyond the mundane, I encourage you to talk with folks at your local hospice about what you can do for their clients. Our training and experience as health caregivers has prepared us to care for people in many settings beyond dentistry.
Peter A Thomas, DMD