40 for 40: Stacey Churchill’s Story

“Our ultimate goal, after all, is not a good death but a good life to the very end.”
Atul Gawande

Unlike many Capital Caring volunteers, I have never been the beneficiary of hospice services. In fact, prior to volunteering with Capital Caring, my association with death had only been at a distance – grandparents and distant relatives and friends of friends. While I recognize this is a blessing, I also know that it is short-term situation for any of us. Instead of personal experience leading me to Capital Caring, a book did. Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End by Atul Gawande sparked my desire to do what I could to bring added meaning and ease to those facing the end of life.

I have no medical or counseling training, I have no training in any related field and I struggled for a while with how I could make a difference. Then I realized that what I do have is a few hours a week to give, and through Capital Caring I learned that in those few hours I could make a difference. In the nine months that I have been volunteering with Capital Caring, I have had the opportunity to sit with patients and provide their primary care-giving family members with some much needed time away from home. I have also had the chance to visit weekly with residents in assisted living facilities and hear their life stories and share some laughs and some tears.

All of these experiences and each of these people have touched my life, and it has been my honor to be allowed into their lives. I am grateful for the opportunity and I am thankful for the place that Capital Caring and other hospice organizations have in our society in creating a good life to the very end.