At a large medical centre in the Northwest USA, while making her rounds, a veteran nurse checks on a frail, elderly man who is near death. “Will you stay with me?” the man asks, his voice barely audible. “Of course,” she says, meaning it. “As soon as I check on my other patients.”
On her return he had passed away.
She consoles herself with the knowledge that he was very old and obviously failing, that there were orders to not resuscitate him, that even if she had returned more quickly she could have done nothing. Still, she is troubled. She feels that she has failed, not just as a nurse but as a human being. It was okay for him to die, she thinks—it was his time—but it was not okay for him to die alone.
No One Dies Alone is a volunteer programme was born out of this experience it provides the reassuring presence of a volunteer companion for a resident who may otherwise be alone, so that they have the gift of human presence in their final days.
No one is born alone, and no one should die alone.