A while back, I wrote a post called, John Serrie, a Musician and So Much More.
As the title would indicate, he’s a musician. He is also a seeker of soul enrichment.
In my previous post, I was interviewing him about a concert he was doing with the International Sound Therapy Association where the proceeds were going to John’s and John’s wife, Ann’s, charity and passion, Hospice Atlanta.
At the end of my first post I indicated I would follow up with another on what I saw; which I never followed up on, probably because I had a family of sick, puking kids or I was on the run here and there and just didn’t remember to do it. I’m sure I could come up with all kinds of excuses.
A couple of weekends ago, I went to a writer’s workshop inAsheville,NC. I met three “girls,” (or women – guess I should face that at 41, I’ve become a woman) and one disclosed after being together for a couple of days that her mother is in hospice.
For anyone that does not know what hospice is, it is end of life care. The workers are there to help a terminal person be comfortable and taken care of at the time of passing over.
Enter Ann and John Serrie. I interviewed the two of them at Hospice Atlanta. I sat with them in a charming, small room with a small table and three chairs that looked like they came from a dining room. After our interview, I took a tour of the facility. Ann actually works at Hospice Atlanta, recruiting people to volunteer and coordinating volunteers once they are willing.
John is a volunteer. He meditates with patients at the moment they are departing for the other side. He explained to me that it can be difficult for some people to be in the room at the time of actual time of death. John holds the hand of the dying and helps them to have an easy transition. He does this with people of all ages, infants and old people alike.
Jonn says, “If the serious mediators knew about this they would flock to be with these people.” He continues, “I talked to the chaplain because I felt I was gaining so much from the experience. I was assured that it is a 50/50 relationship. The person I am meditating for is getting just as much out of it as I am.”
When family members find out afterwards about a loved one’s passing, many times they ask, Were they alone? At Hospice Atlanta, they do not let patients die alone. John is not the only volunteer willing to be with the dying.
The hospice’s mission is to have an environment as much like home as possible. Touring Hospice Atlanta, their mission is evident in so many ways. I saw this as a place of spirituality in action – compassion, kindness, selflessness, gratitude and generosity.
Gratitude and compassion are everywhere I looked. Each hallway is covered in beautiful art. Every piece donated by someone that had a family member who was aided by Hospice Atlanta. There is a grand piano, donated. A huge stained-glass sculpture hangs from the middle of a skylight in the stocked library – all donated. There are three gardens where patients and guests could find serenity – all built by patients’ families. In one garden there was a rose-shaped wrought iron fence with a patient’s initials at the bottom that leads into a small garden with a fountain. In the patient’s rooms, two doors open with room enough for the bed to fit out into the gardens. Pets are encouraged to visit.
I found that the kid’s area was decorated with whimsy and healing in mind. A local charity, National Mothers and Daughters Charity League, delivers sandwiches on a regular routine and near-by hotels have reduced hospice rates.
I could go on and on about the lasting gratitude and the attention to compassionate detail in this place of quick transition. Most patients receiving in-center care are there for two weeks.
80 percent of hospice patients receive home care. 20 percent come to in-patient hospice. Some of the 80 percent come to the center to receive care so that care takers can take a break or run errands. The family members receive 13 months bereavement volunteering after the death of the family member; two years after the death of a child.
75 percent of the volunteers have had some dealings with hospice – a story as to why they are volunteering. I stated in my first post that my grandmother was in hospice care, from home, at the end of her life. I saw then what a gift it is to have this person come in and care for a loved one from their home, away from a hospital.
I hope some day to be involved in hospice in some form. Even if it is to sit with someone and give a primary care taker a break, or run errands for someone looking after a loved one. Whatever my calling in this effort, I know some day it will come for me and I intend to answer that call.