Who am I?
Where did I come from?
Where am I going?
Is there meaning to my life?
Home Hospice Association’s Internship Program welcomes our 2023-2024 Social Justice students with the commitment to help answer two of those four questions.
HHA was founded to accomplish one goal, to change the number of 84% - the number of people living in Canada who do not have equitable access to quality end-of-life care. We knew that to make a dent in that number we had to change our concept of dying. Dying needed to be seen as a part of life - a natural progression and not a medical event. One of the ways in which we committed to help solve the problem was to look at the problem through a social justice lens.
In September 2017 we began our work with students in the social justice field, and over the past 4 years we have worked with dozens of individuals who wish to answer two of our questions: Where am I going and is there any meaning to my life.
Helping someone to answer these two questions is an honour and a very serious responsibility; something we do not take lightly. It is our sincere hope that each student joining us for this coming school year will greet April 2024 (the end of their internship) with confidence, and knowing they are headed in a direction that helps them serve the population they desire to serve. It is our hope that they will gain an understanding that because death is a natural part of life, we all play a role in providing end-of-life care.
A life of service is a noble but challenging life and starting that life of service from a strong foundation is key. HHA interns receive the strongest foundation possible because we understand the responsibility we have to help create the future leaders of our social justice system. To be a good leader you need to know what you are asking of your team, and you must always understand the challenges they may face along the way - something that all of us who aspire to be great leaders must remember.
Martin Luther King Jr said it well:
If a leader gets too far out in front of his people they will lose sight of him and not follow him any longer.*
*This is a direct quote so apologies for the use of gender specific pronouns.
With the goal of building a village of the greatest leaders, we strive to help our interns (and quite frankly everyone who works with our charity) find the answer to those two questions with the following in mind.
Who am I?
“I” am someone who has chosen a life of service. I make this choice knowing it will not be the easiest life. I may not drive the fanciest car or live in the biggest home, but I wake up every morning in sincere gratitude, knowing the contribution that I am making to the greater good, and that those who have so little receive so much thanks to me. I am someone who cares - I just do not say I care, I show I care by showing up every day to navigate the changes and the challenges, and I do not give up because there are so many people depending upon me. I am someone who also needs care. I am strong, but I am not strong all the time. I need to be reminded that care of others does begin with care of self.
Is there any meaning to my life?
While it can be frustrating to see an answer to a question be another question… if not me, who? There is meaning to my life because I have made a decision. I have decided to be the person who makes a difference, fixes a problem, someone who inspires change for those I have been called to serve. The meaning of my life is the meaning that I give it, and I choose my meaning to be founded in the promise to leave this world a little bit better than how I found it. I have meaning in my life because my life is not “all about me” - it is about those who need me. While there are times when I may let myself down, I know I will never intentionally let those who need me down.
I personally want to thank all our Interns; past, present and future, as well as every single person within the HHA family who has chosen to answer those two questions in a way that helps move our mission, vision and values forward. Easing the suffering of the dying and those who love them, is not the easiest task in the world. Building a national village of those committed to this task has not and will not happen overnight. However, with every one person, with every one hour of commitment each of us makes, we are moving that mountain.
I hope each of you reading this blog today join me in welcoming our new Interns to our HHA family. I hope that if you are asking those two questions today for yourself, that this blog reminds you of the incredible human you are. How do I know you are incredible? Because only the incredible care for others at their most vulnerable time, and never are we more vulnerable than when we are dying.
Let’s greet this first long week of September (the start of HHA’s new year) with passion; a passion that celebrates who we are and the meaning of our lives.