By: Malarie Allen |  Public Relations Specialist

What does it take to companion people on an end-of-life journey? Love. It’s that simple.

Our staff, volunteers, and community supporters love those facing an end-of-life journey. We love by relieving physical pain. We love by bringing spiritual or emotional comfort. We love by helping patients fulfill their final wishes.

We love by listening – listening to patients’ needs, spoken and unspoken; listening to families’ concerns; listening for ways we can serve.

Shepherd’s Cove Hospice volunteer chaplain Russell Mathis recently painted a beautiful picture of the heart of hospice care:

I got to spend about 2 hours at Shepherd’s Cove this evening making my rounds.

I speak with my patients about any end of life questions or concerns they may have, but mostly, I listen. I listen as they share with me some of the most beautiful stories and details of their loved ones and their lives together. These families are inviting me, during this extremely vulnerable time in their life, to be a part of their family. To be a part of their joyous times as they talk about their wedding day and birthdays and Christmas mornings. They are also inviting me to be a part of their painful present as they share with me how, just 24 hours earlier their loved one was sitting up laughing and smiling and now there is very little movement and mostly silence from them.

Oh, how my heart aches for them and their situation and if I could make it all go away – I would… If I could spare them the tears and the broken hearts they are having to deal with – I would. Oh, how I would.

I’ve often asked myself what does it mean to be a hospice chaplain. I’ve rolled that thought around in my mind while driving to work, while driving home from work and while laying in the bed late at night. Then today I believe I began to see the meaning of a hospice chaplain come into focus and I can only come up with two words that, I believe, truly sum up this ministry that I am so humbled to be a part of: We Love

I am Russ, and I am a volunteer chaplain at Shepherd’s Cove Hospice.

“and these three remain: faith, hope, and love. But the greatest of these is love.”