Being at Mission House during COVID-19

by Paul Smith, volunteer

We’re all feeling the impact of COVID-19 in our day-to-day living – it’s easy to get caught up in insecurity, uncertainty, and inconvenience.

Our experience in hospice care has taught us valuable life lessons, such as how things can change in one’s life circumstances at any time, and that life seems to go by really, really quickly when we suddenly find ourselves facing the big “what’s next?” Because of this, we may feel more able to roll with the unexpected, the challenging, and the uncertainty that the current pandemic has brought to our lives.

There have been a few changes at Mission House, and yet things are essentially much the same. What has changed is apparent as soon as we get to the front door, instead of mindfully walking straight in with the anticipation of meaningful interactions and helping ways, the door is locked. That felt like a big adjustment to me.

volunteer arranging flowersSo now we ring the doorbell and put on masks before we enter. We have to be careful regarding physical contact – something that’s very hard for those of us who are typically such free huggers amongst staff. We are conscious of keeping our distance.

For me personally, I most notice the change of circumstances when I’m sitting with a resident friend. That’s when wearing a mask feels so very unnatural. But even wearing a mask in personal interaction has started to feel ok. We are still sharing stories and offering input that may bring comfort and solace at this pivotal time. Our eye contact is brighter and more piercing as a result.

And wearing a mask is never likely to hide the smiles and big spirit of all those who work and volunteer at the house. Sparkly eyes and happy laughter are seen and heard just as always. And now, rather than being a little frustrated at having to wear a mask, we are complimenting each other on the creative patterns and colors that many are wearing!

What has not changed in any way, shape or form, is the loving kindness that exudes from all personnel at the house…no mask can hide that. Happiness, care and laughter are in plentiful amounts just as they have always been.

So many life lessons are given and received, sometimes by those getting ready to pass from this life, teaching us how to do it…and sometimes by us reassuring and caring for those approaching the threshold. It’s a constant back and forth of equal exchange.

Many new visitors are surprised to find our house such an uplifting place to be, laced with a Zen sense of calm and reverence, where meaningful conversations, expressions of love, healing of turbulent relationships, words that have needed to be said, closure and acceptance are freely and frequently found.