Help on a Difficult Journey
by Ken Clarke
To love at all is to be vulnerable.
Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken.
As human beings we have within us the incredible capacity to love; we were made to love and be loved, to know and be known. It is this ability to experience love, to give and receive love that gives to us our highest purpose and greatest joy.
Love allows us to connect with one another in deep and meaningful ways; as marriage partners, as families and friends and in community with one another. In such relationships we do indeed find meaning and purpose and great joy as we journey through our days on earth. But as C.S. Lewis noted: To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibility broken.
In this world, we live between love and loss; love inevitably leads to loss and grief--they are inseparable. We grieve because one who was loved, with whom we have shared our lives has been taken from us and there is often a profound sense of emptiness we experience, a void that leaves us wondering, ‘will my heart ever heal’?
Some would say grief is the cost of loving. Dr. Alan Wolfelt, author and Director of the Centre for Loss and Life Transition makes this observation: Grief is predicated on our capacity to give and receive love. We cannot avoid this paradox. C.S. Lewis writes: If you want to make sure of keeping it (your heart) intact you must give it to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements. Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket, safe, dark, motionless, airless, it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. To love is to be vulnerable.
Henry Nouwen wisely observes: Every time we make the decision to love someone, we open ourselves to great suffering, because those we most love cause us not only great joy but also great pain. The greatest pain comes from leaving. When the child leaves home, when the husband or wife leaves for a long period of time or for good, when the beloved friend departs to another country or dies … the pain of the leaving can tear us apart. Still, if we want to avoid the suffering of leaving, we will never experience the joy of loving. And love is stronger than fear, life stronger than death, hope stronger than despair. We have to trust that the risk of loving is always worth taking.
As hospice volunteers, you serve on the front lines in providing support and encouragement when love and loss collide. You provide an invaluable gift to one who is nearing the end of their journey and their family members and you enter in to their joys and sorrows. Your heart of compassion allows you to offer grace and kindness at one of the most difficult times of life and to continue to walk with family through their loss.
As a Director of the Society I am continually amazed at the courage and compassion you exhibit as you do the work of a hospice volunteer. You are making a difference at a time when kindness and grace matters most. I want to thank you for all that you do and encourage you as you give selflessly of your time and energy to bless others in our community!
At the Desert Valley Hospice Society, we celebrate such loving relationships and we offer support and encouragement when the journey becomes difficult; when you or a loved one is dealing with a life-limiting illness. Our trained volunteers are available to come along side and walk with you. We also offer Bereavement Support for those who have recently lost a love one to death. If you are reading this posting and know of someone who could benefit from the services offered by the DVHS, please do not hesitate to contact us.
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This blog is written by and for Hospice Volunteers and supporters of our vision of supporting excellence in the delivery of Hospice Palliative Care and end-of-life services