Carol McLeod, Suburban Hospital Volunteer for the No One Dies Alone Program and the Patient and Family Advisory Committee

"Sometimes they hear me, and sometimes they don’t, but I know deep down that they feel my presence." -Carol McLeod

"Sometimes they hear me, and sometimes they don’t, but I know deep down that they feel my presence."

I have spent the last 30 years of my life with people in the very last moments of life. I know this would be uncomfortable for some people, but I believe it is my calling.

I spent my early adult years supporting my husband in graduate school, raising three wonderful children and singing in local musical ensembles. When my children graduated from college, I went back to school — first exploring music therapy, and then nursing. I graduated as a registered nurse at age 50 and went on to be what I was meant to be — a hospice nurse.

Back in those days, in the early years of the AIDS epidemic, we were unsure of what we were dealing with, but there were so many patients who needed our care, and we did our best to keep them pain-free and comfortable.

An inpatient hospice facility isn’t a frightening place. It’s actually quiet and loving, and the family members of the patients tend to bond together to form a village of sorts. They share their pain and grief in ways that many people never understand.

But family can’t be there day and night, and sometimes patients pass away when their loved ones are at home getting much-needed rest or dealing with the reality of their lives. Without fail, these family members always wanted to know who was with their loved one at the end. It was important to them that nurses and other hospice staff members were there to gently guide their family member to the other side.

Now I’m 82, and I’ve been volunteering at Suburban Hospital for almost 10 years. My “day job” is in the Emergency Department, where I’m a greeter, gopher and helper. I also serve on the Patient and Family Advisory Council.

I am also proud to serve on the No One Dies Alone Committee. NODA is a special program that provides dying patients with a companion if they don’t have friends or family nearby. No medical care is involved, so NODA volunteers come from many different departments here at Suburban.

What a privilege it is to sit with people who are in the last hours of their lives and help them find peace. I hold their hands and hum my favorite songs to them. Sometimes they hear me, and sometimes they don’t, but I know deep down that they feel my presence.

I truly believe there’s nothing more fulfilling and meaningful than helping a person die peacefully and quietly. It is a true gift.

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Rating: 4.9/5 (7 votes cast)

Carol McLeod, Suburban Hospital Volunteer for the No One Dies Alone Program and the Patient and Family Advisory Committee, 4.9 out of 5 based on 7 ratings


{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }


India Brown March 26, 2017 at 2:33 pm

Ms..Carol, You are a very kind person for this love the article you make me want to do the same thing it touched my heart. Some day I hope to join your team as well to give that same touch to someone else you really do have a gift. The passion you have for this is so amazing hope you give others in good hands may god bless you..
You Rock!!!!


Mary Aguilera-Titus March 24, 2017 at 11:40 am

Carol - you have blessed many with your kind and gentle presence. We are so very fortunate to have you as a dedicated and caring volunteer with NODA. I loved reading your story and knowing more about you!! Such a rich history. Thank you, thank you!!!!


Emeline March 24, 2017 at 10:23 am

Carol, I love your story. I am a NODA volunteer myself at Suburban Hospital and I understand fully the extent of caring at that last stage of a patient's life-spam. I was at my mother's bedside when she passed in January this year and because I had encountered this before, I was able to counsel my other siblings who were at her bedside. It is such an awesome feeling to know that you are by the patient's bedside when they take that final breath and knowing that they are not alone makes it so satisfying. Please keep on doing what you are doing; God bless you richly!


Debra Scheinberg March 24, 2017 at 9:56 am

Suburban Hospital is so lucky to have Carol and our other amazing NODA volunteers. They're a special group of people.


Gloria March 24, 2017 at 9:53 am

Carol, God Bless you, you are a wonderful person and I too would love to do this one day in retirement.


Ingrid March 24, 2017 at 7:40 am

Such a selfless demonstration of compassion! May you be blessed for your heart of love.


Anna January March 24, 2017 at 7:15 am

Carol, You are a very "special" person. I loved your article. You do have a true gift. Some day I hope to become a NODA volunteer. I'm not far from my retirement years. By reading your article, I know this is something I would love to do. Thank you for all you have done!!


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