For the past three years, Jane has volunteered with TRU to provide support to hospice home care patients and their families. She offers relief to caretakers, makes meals or cups of tea, provides transportation if needed, does light household chores, and gives general companionship.
Jane brings her expertise to the Care Center
Jane, a clinical herbalist, started an aromatherapy program at the Care Center at Longmont United Hospital last year. She trains the staff at the inpatient facility on which essential oils they can use. She also creates blends that supply the facility. “It’s as simple as lavender essential oil making people feel relaxed,” Jane says. “There’s often agitation during death, and essential oils can bring calm to the process. Essential oils like rosemary and the citrus oils can just freshen up a room. Long hours at the bedside are hard on anybody and just bringing in the citruses and the mints can just kind of brighten the mood, kind of lift the spirits a little bit. “Rosemary most specifically is an herb of remembrance, so it can help pull up memories and support those conversations during the end of someone’s life,” she adds. “Then there’s the sacred essential oils like sandalwood and frankincense and myrrh, which have been used for thousands of years to honor the sacredness of crossing the threshold.”
When asked how she became involved with TRU, Jane recounts “In April 2016 I became certified as a Death Midwife. After my training I still had my full-time job that I could not leave and so decided to start volunteering in hospice. I came across TRU Community Care and was impressed with the organization and the kindness of the staff and so decided to sign up for their next volunteer training.”
Her journey to death work began in 2015, when she and her mother attended the Parliament of World Religions in Salt Lake City. It was there that she heard someone speak about death midwifery for the first time, the practice of assisting in the dying process. It’s a practice as old as human civilization, a historically community-based role where the death midwife not only helps families make plans for their dying loved one, but also helps everyone cope with death’s natural place in life. “She was lecturing on your final gift — it was all about green burials and what your gift is going to be to this world,” Jane says. “Just listening to her talking about death midwifery work it was like this door opened and I realized that regardless of what role it plays in my life, this was a path I needed to get on.”
“There’s so many different ways to help and such a need for a broad skill set.”
When asked what her favorite part of volunteering with TRU is, Jane replied “The people I have come to meet and care for at TRU make me feel so grateful that I get the opportunity to do this work. Having the opportunity to hear their stories and share in a few moments of their life has enriched my own life in so many ways. I love being able to work with the staff to bring about the aromatherapy program at the Care Center. I appreciate the openness and support I’ve received from the office and Care Center staff in bringing forth the power of scent into the end of life journey. I have loved volunteering at the Care Center since they moved to Longmont. I really enjoy every Monday night that I get to spend there.”
When asked about volunteering for a hospice, Jane stated “Hospice volunteer work is amazing and there’s such a need for it. The nurses and social workers, they only have so much time and it’s really the volunteers that either can support the nurses, can sit by the bedside and volunteer time in the grief counseling office or bring their special service animals to visit. But you don’t have to be a counselor or have a service animal: There’s so many different ways to help and such a need for a broad skill set.”
Jane works full-time with Homecare of the Rockies and owns her own business, Elderwood Apothecary. She also co-facilitates a death discussion group in Longmont called Open heart, Open Mind at The Meditation Place. Her hobbies include hiking and knitting.
Thank you Jane for sharing your unique skillset with TRU and the people we care for!