The Hospice Journal was one of the most important things I ever did as a writer and a photographer. It was, in fact, the birth of my photographer. The Hospice Journal photographs were important to the wonderful people Izzy and I were seeing. I began my work as a hospice volunteer about the same time my first marriage ended and I began to break down, suffering acute anxiety and depression. Izzy and I drove all over Washington County, N.Y.and the lower Adirondacks visiting people on the edge of life. It was a transformative experience for me. It connected me to people when I desperately needed that.
It helped me deal with health care, aging and my own mortality. It taught me that such work is sometimes sad, but not only that. It was beautiful, uplifting, challenging, wonderful. In hospice work, there are no second chances for volunteers.You just have to do it right, and Izzy did it right. So did I. I learned quickly how to use light and space, as I could not bring in fancy equipment or ask people to move around. I learned a lot about photos quickly. I learned more about empowering people to choose the way in which they leave us, one of the most important decisions anybody can make in their life.
I am not sure I would have survived the dark time in my life without hospice work or the Journal, as it pulled me out of myself. Hospice work gives one the most wonderful perspective on their own life. I so loved the people I met there and miss so many of them – Marion, Barb, Glen, Warren and Helen. The nurses, volunteers and social workers were among the best people I have known. The Hospice Journal was work I am immensely proud of and I let it go dark because I had moved onto a different place, and frankly, because it was hard for me to look at it. Every day, people have asked me to see the photos and journals again, and there is no reason not to do that. It would be a crime to let it simply lapse and vanish into the digital ether. So the Hospice Journal is live again and any of you are free to use it in any that benefits hospice work. It will soon be attached to the "Blogs I Love" page on my website, and it will stay there. I stopped using Lenore as a therapy dog as she was too large and, occasionally, too interested in the patients food. Izzy and I still visit people at the end of their lives, but informally and privately.
I'm pleased to see the Hospice Journal go live again.