I had an unsettling experience recently during a hospice assignment. An employee of a facility where I was meeting a client challenged my right to be there and essentially sent me packing.

I was humiliated and ashamed. And, I’ll admit it, indignant and angry.

What floors me today is that I acted on the first feelings.

After sobbing my heart out, I left a message for my volunteer supervisor (who is amazing, btw) to tell her what had happened. I thought I had ‘ruined’ hospice for our client and proven myself to be an utter failure as a hospice volunteer.

When my supervisor called back, she did what she always does. (Did I mention she was amazing?) She assured me I had done nothing wrong, and she would investigate.

Within 24 hours, I was totally vindicated. It turns out the employee was a per diem worker who was totally unfamiliar with hospice and its goals. And I had done the right thing by apologizing and leaving, and letting more appropriate people handle the situation.

In my morning pages, today, I noted that my last entry had been an impulse to go visit my hospice client. I acted on that impulse, thinking I was choosing the ‘best action’ for me that day. I wrote how badly that had ended, but that I had also been vindicated.

I looked up ‘vindicated’. It comes from an ancient Latin word, and has come to mean :…shown or proven to be right, reasonable, justified. To be avenged.”

But I was startled to learn that the original Latin meaning came from a word meaning ‘claim’. And originally meant “to free someone from servitude by claiming him as free.”

I’m astonished. Because I realize what actually happened was not just that someone had accused me of bad judgment….

But I had chained myself to their bad opinion of me.

I allowed myself to be held captive to someone else’s judgment. Worse–someone else’s bad judgment.

In my heart, I knew I’d done nothing unprofessional or hurtful. But given this young person’s world view–she didn’t have as much information about the situation as I did, she was inexperienced, and she had no hospice training–I can see why she thought–and spoke–the way she did.

On the other hand, she was chained to her pride–her belief that she had all the facts and that despite her inexperience, she knew best. And I allowed my world view to be overshadowed by hers.

In the end, we can only ask ourselves, “What is best for this client? Are his needs being served?” So, I did the right thing, and left. Reported to the appropriate people and let them navigate the inside politics and processes of the facility.

The client will get what he needs–extra care during these difficult times. Hopefully, the employee will get what she needs–knowledge about hospice.

And perhaps, at my ripe old age(no, I’m not telling today, because yesterday someone said I looked 20 years younger), maybe I will get what I need….as a hospice volunteer, as an artist, as a wife and mother, as a writer, as an ordinary human being walking the earth today, in this moment.

I pray for what I need today:

The ability to let go of the need to be right. The ability to not buckle to someone else’s unkind opinion of me. To not chain my feelings of self-worth to the judgment of others.

To know my own worth, and the value of my own actions and thoughts, unless they are truly working from a place of love and kindness.

To trust my heart.

To lose my need to feel vindicated, and to realize I am already free.

Author: Luann Udell

I find it just as important to write about my art as to make it. I am fascinated by stories. You can tell when people are speaking their truth--their eyes light up, their voices become strong, their entire body posture becomes powerful and upright. I love it when people get to this place in their work, their relationships, their art. As I work from this powerful place in MY heart, I share this process with others--so they have a strong place to stand, too. Because the world needs our beautiful art. All of it we can make, as fast as we can! Whether it's a bowl, a painting, a song, a garden, a story, if it makes our world a better place, we need to do everything in our power to get it out there.

8 thoughts on “LESSONS FROM HOSPICE #2: Being Right”

  1. Excellent post. In the Bible, it says, to know the Truth will make you free. Jesus is our vindicator. That was wisdom to handle things like you did, as you had a much bigger spectrum on looking back. I like your words about being chained to someone else’s opinion, that really spoke loudly. We have a choice in what we allow into our ears. Several people benefited from your actions in handling that situation. Thank you Luann


  2. In the book “Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff” – the one that most caught my attention was to “give others the gift, the joy of being right”. When I was first given the book, not sure by whom, it opened to that page . “Oh no, I’m not reading that one”, was my thought. But each time I picked it up, darned if it didn’t open to that page! So I finally read it, and saw why I hadn’t wanted to; if I gave up my “rightness”, wouldn’t that be admitting I was less than? but each day last summer, I wrote these words in my journal, “Just for today, may I give others the gift of being right”. when situations would arise, I’d remember what I’d written and just smile – and my summer went amazingly well, and I even got feedback from my boss that I was “different”. Sometimes it is so hard to just smile and not get into a challenge about ‘rightness’, and my dear husband gives me lots of opportunities to practice 🙂 Great posting, Luann!


  3. This one is uncannily perfect for the time you are posting it, Luann.
    I have a friend who is suffering from the ill-intentioned, unkind, unknowing and very hurtful attacks by another. Your observations here are perfect. And worth posting on the wall. Which I will do! Right on. Thank you.


  4. You are soooooo wise in ways that are important to you and to others. “Buckling someone else’s opinion to yourself” is such a great image, and greater lesson. Some people must be right all the time–and will stand on your soul to be taller. What a wonderful post!


  5. Dear, dear Luann, I have always enjoyed your writing, both here and in Craft Report, but your words of wisdom on the topic of hospice have hit very close to home. My younger sister finally succumbed to her 2 1/2 year journey with breast cancer. I don’t call it a struggle, because she always won, at least so far as those around her could tell. When she had her one and only major ‘event’, she came home to my niece’s house under the care of hospice. These people allowed her to die on her own terms, in her daughter’s home, surrounded by those she loved and who loved her. There was no drama or flashing lights, just a very peaceful transition between being there and then not. Without hospice, this would have never been possible, so I want you to know, that no matter if you do make a ‘mistake’, you and all your peers are accomplishing something almost impossible in this day and age, a ‘good’ death. Bless you and keep your head up and your spirit high, for you are doing good as you grow into your own self.


  6. You give something so amazing of yourself and I admire what you do as a hospice volunteer. I’ve first hand experience, my mother recently transitioned peacefully here in our home, it was what she wanted. As the post from Susan (above) mentioned, this could never have been possible without hospice. Your work is hard enough at times and it’s sad that you were subjected to someone’s bad judgment and inexperience. When we ‘consider the source’ of where this ‘judgement’ comes from, it is sometimes easier to gauge it’s validity or worth. In this case, the young worker who was unfamiliar with hospice (and life) spoke from a place of uncertainty. I applaud the way you handled yourself under these circumstances and hope that you don’t doubt yourself or what you do – ever. The folks who work for hospice and the work they do, is a blessing and a comfort to those who are dealing with ‘end of life’ and they are invaluable to the caregiver as well. There is a lesson here for both of you and you obviously have gained much insight from yours. I hope that the young worker will learn something from this also – if not now, then later down the ‘road of life’. By the way, I really like your art Luann, that’s what caught my eye in the CSN email this morning – then, when I saw the hospice title I just had to comment. I’m sure I’ve not told you anything you didn’t already know, but WOW, you are so appreciated for what you do, thank you.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: