A Hospice Story


Submitted by: Denise Torgerson - September 1, 2017

One of the most uncomfortable parts of my job is that people think I know stuff. Now, don't get me wrong, I do know stuff and if I don't I will find someone who does, but often people look to me for answers.

"I need to talk to you."

"What do you think about…?"

Of course, I am always available for anyone who wants to sit with me. I love that this is what I do. The truth is though, that I can't answer people's questions or fix their dilemmas. What I can do is listen. I am very good at listening.

What happens as I listen is that people start to discover their own answers. They start to see ways that they can fix their own dilemmas. They are allowed to explore.

I love that.

They come into the conversation expecting wisdom from me and instead find it within themselves.

They come to the conversation expecting advice from me and instead find that they are capable of figuring it out themselves.

They come, sometimes just to talk about the weather and if I am still and quiet, they leave with a new understanding or a new sense of value that they didn't know was within them.

It is magic I think! Beautiful and powerful.

It is through my willingness to listen to their story that they come up with their own next chapter.

Sometimes I feel like a fraud. The staff will ask, "did you talk to…?" or "can you go talk to…?"

Of course I do, but I honestly don't talk much at all. I simply give the person space and help to create a feeling of safety so that they can explore and discover and fix and move through what ever it is that they are needing to move through.

I spend a lot of time in uncertainty while I work. Sometimes I find it difficult.

When I am honest with myself though, I realize that it is in the uncertainty that I become effective. It is in the "not knowing" that I am helpful to our guests and their families. It is in the sitting still and listening with no wisdom or advice that I see them come to their own sense of certainty: That they see their value and they see that they have the capacity to engage with what ever is showing up for them.

So, full disclosure – I don't know a lot. I don't talk much. But it is in the listening that our guests feel cared for and valued.

I love my job.