By Greg Schmidt, hospice chaplain

I love Thanksgiving! In addition to diving into a boat-load of mashed potatoes topped with creamy chicken and noodles and a side of deep fat fried turkey while watching the Dallas Cowboys game with my family, I love it when people express what it is that makes them thankful.

I asked my fellow team members, “When it comes to being a member of the Heart & Soul Hospice team, what makes you most thankful?” Here’s what some of them had to say:

Shanda Mihali, Office Coordinator

“… finding out how much the family members and patients love and appreciate the hard work of each of the team members. One-time strangers become loved ones very quickly in this setting and the Heart & Soul Hospice team takes that privilege and responsibility very seriously.” – Shanda Mihali

Cheyenne Basingo, Administrator

“… this team! No one knows when you will need hospice services for a loved one that is so near and dear to your heart. When that reality came true for a very special person in my life, there was no second thought that the hospice family that I belong to would be there to care for my grandpa and family.

“There is no greater honor than to introduce my work family to my family at home, see that connection of care, and love for the human spirit. This team constantly goes above and beyond their comfort zone and job descriptions to make sure that hospice care is so much more than what one assumes. I couldn’t be more proud to call my Heart & Soul Hospice team ‘family.’” – Cheyenne Basingo

Angela Nanninga, Hospice Aide

“… the opportunity to give love and care to my patients and their families!” – Angela Nanninga

Shalyn Bates, Hospice Aide

“… the sense of humor and smiles we muster up, even on the roughest of days. Hospice is one of the most rewarding healthcare services, but some days are hard. I am able to continue on this journey with my patients and their family because I know my team and the Lord are there to lift my spirits when it becomes a bit too much.” – Shalyn Bates

Katrina Karanu, Clinical Services Director

“… a team that truly believes in our mission. I believe that each of us strive every day to do what is best for our patients, whether it is listening, being an advocate, or just letting them know that we are there for them. I am thankful to work with such a great team who truly love what they do.” – Katrina Karanu

Holidays like Thanksgiving are often very difficult for those who have recently experienced the death of a family member or friend. In my opinion, the most painful part of the loss is the separation death brings. Ripped from us are the opportunities to share jokes and stories, recipes, advice or quiet moments on the porch watching the sunset. It makes me sad just thinking about it.

At the same time, just as the fact that celebrations like Thanksgiving, Christmas or our birthday don’t last forever, neither will the pain of separation. It’s worth noting that it isn’t the passing of “time” itself that makes anything better. It is what we do with the time we have that transforms us.

Open to suggestions? Here are 5 ideas to do with that time.

  1. Start exercising! Walk around your block or in a mall for 20 minutes at least 3 times a week! Walking releases endorphins – the anti-stress, feel-good hormones naturally produced by your body – that serve as mood elevators.
  2. Change one thing about your diet! Need to eat more vegetables? Or fruit? Do you really need to add salt to the food on your plate? Need to stop drinking soda? Take control and get disciplined in just one area for the next 4 months, and then see what other changes you might want to consider in the future.
  3. Plant a garden! Vegetable. Flower. It doesn’t really matter. It’s the physical activity of creating and tending to something new that brings vision, focus, and purpose to life.
  4. Adopt a friend! From kids to Papas and Grammys on your block, there are people in your sphere of influence that you’ve likely thought were interesting, but never took to time to really know. Now’s the time!! Not ready for that? Maybe it’s time to rescue a pet from a nearby shelter.
  5. Become a volunteer! The staff at Heart & Soul Hospice is always on the lookout for individuals with the gift of caring who want to share their time, energy and talents with our patients.

Jesus demonstrated that it is in the emptying of oneself that every individual finds fulfillment. So if you want to lead a more “thanks-filled” life, then make an investment. Anyone can set and worry. Only the brave will rise up and make an investment in the world at their doorstep. Be brave … and thankful!