A Blessing of Hands

Audrey SmithHospice

Some of the first individuals to greet our guests and their families when they walk through the door of Hospice House & Support Care of Williamsburg are our Companions.

Our Companions are Certified Nursing Assistants, but we call them Companions because that is the heart of what they do at Hospice House.  They are the individuals who join our guests for the totality of their journey here at Hospice House.  They are the ones to keep our guests comfortable by administering medications and adjusting our guests’ positions.  They are the individuals who bathe our guests, who make meals for our guests, and who attend to our guest’s daily grooming needs.

Because our Companions work in 12-hour increments day and night, they are often the ones sitting with and holding the hands of our guests as they take their final breaths.  They are the heart of what we do here at Hospice House and we could not do what we do without them.

This past week was Certified Nursing Assistant’s Week, and to mark this special occasion, Hospice House & Support Care of Williamsburg organized a Blessing of Hands Ceremony.

A Blessing of Hands Ceremony is an interfaith celebration of healthcare workers.

It is a time to recognize the gifts of those who make the day-to-day happen in the world of healthcare, and to remind them that they are cared for and remembered in their daily routines.

Our Blessing of Hands Ceremony.

Our Blessing of Hands Ceremony.

For our service, we used the pouring of water as a ritual blessing.    Why water, you ask?

When we are born, our bodies are composed of 75% water, and throughout our lives our bodies maintain a 50-70% water ratio.  Water is in our sweat, our breath and our tears.  Water is usually the last thing we crave at the end of our lives.

Our Companions use water to bathe and groom our guests.  They soak swabs in water to relieve our guests’ dry mouths.  Our Companions keep the house pristine, washing our floors and scrubbing down our countertops with water.  They use water to serve our guest’s loved ones coffee and tea.

As hospice workers, our Companions also share their life’s supply of water.  They cry tears of sorrow and tears of joy with our guests and their families on their life journeys.  This particular kind of sharing requires immense courage and profound compassion.

This kind of sharing is not for everyone.  It is a calling.  And when we are called to something in life, we usually hear something from the individuals around us.  We hear that we are gifted.  We hear that we are treasured.  We hear that we are remembered.  We hear that, like water, our talents flow out into the world around us making new life form in new and unexpected ways.

At Hospice House & Support Care of Williamsburg, we recognize that everyone needs a space to reflect on their calling and to hear the community that summons them affirm their calling.   So, to the sound of pouring water and the gentle flow of ocean-themed music we said with our Companions:

“May your hands be a blessing of light, hope and love to all whom you meet and may this water be a seal of this blessing.”

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Our water bowl for the Celebration of Life.

To view our Blessing of Hands Program, click the link below:

Blessing of Hands 2016

Audrey Smith is the Executive Director of Hospice House & Support Care of Williamsburg (HHSCW). HHSCW is a social-model hospice that cares for people at the end of life, comforts the bereaved and empowers others to do the same. The Hospice House itself is a spacious residence that is a home away from home for our guests and their families. Support care services range from companionship in families' homes to extensive bereavement programs provided to families throughout the community. Hospice House & Support Care of Williamsburg is a 501(c)(3) organization that is entirely funded by contributions. No family or individual ever receives a bill for our services and support; nor do we accept Medicare, Medicaid or other reimbursements. For more information or to make a gift, please call Hospice House & Support Care of Williamsburg at 757-253-1220 or visit www.williamsburghospice.org.