Skip to main content

Volunteer Makes a Difference in the Lives of Patients, Families During End-of-Life Journey

Working with individuals facing a terminal illness seems to run in hospice volunteer Debbie Krieg’s family. Among her siblings and cousins are two more hospice volunteers, two hospice nurses, and a hospice physician.

Growing up on a dairy farm, Debbie shared, “There was a lot of life and death on our farm. Of course, that’s different than people. But it was very much sad at times, and that’s just how it was. All of us grew up with the idea that death was part of life.”

Debbie gives her time visiting terminally ill patients and their loved ones in their homes. How that time is spent is guided by the patient and family, and VNA Care’s volunteers draw upon theDebbie Krieg training and ongoing support they are provided as they work as part of the hospice team.

Among the patients Debbie has seen was a retired engineer in his 80s with end-stage congestive heart failure. He loved playing cribbage. When he learned Debbie didn’t know how to play the card game, he took on the role of teacher.

Her visits over the course of one year were devoted to the game, and his children sometimes joined the fun. On the occasion that Debbie won, the patient would tell Debbie that she was “coming along.”

Even as the patient’s time drew short and he became very weak, he wanted to continue playing cribbage with Debbie. She’d hold up his cards for him, and he’d point at which ones he wanted to play. She’d then look at her own hand, and they would make their way through a game.

The patient never talked about his illness or his personal life. Yet, when Debbie attended his wake, everyone knew about her and the time they spent together playing cribbage.

Debbie said, “There are many ways to be a good hospice volunteer.”

VNA Care’s hospice volunteers can do many things, including providing companionship, running errands, offering respite, and much more. Learn more about becoming a hospice volunteer.

Share this page