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Stine Solheim: "Knowing what happens has given me a greater understanding about life and death"

The Volunteer of the mponth travels to Norway in Februrary, where we meet Stine Solheim, volunteer at Haukeland University Hospital in Bergen.

How did you start volunteering in end-of-life care?

I saw the Facebook post about the information meeting and sent an email to the coordinator of the volunteer service.

As a care assistant in elderly care, I faced death at an early age. My grandmother used to speak openly and honestly about death as a natural part of life. I have always found it interesting to learn more about death.

What does an end-of-life volunteer programme such as iLIVE provide or add for sick people and their relatives?

The opportunity to contribute and to bring some peace and relief in a difficult situation in life. I experience grateful relatives and staff. It gives a sense of calmness in the room when someone is sitting there, which is reassuring for the patient and their relatives.

Can you describe an experience that made an impact on you while working with iLIVE?

At the end of 2022, I was part of an 'on-call' arrangement for an extended week, doing three to four shifts, including two evenings. The patient and I had some eye contact, but no communication beyond that. It was a nice experience, but at the same time special. Death can be a good experience after a good life. It is nice to sit there, the world stops for a while. I often wonder, "Who is this person?" I create a picture in my mind, and sometimes get to know a little more during the shift. I find it interesting. Letting us sit by the dying person also shows trust from the relatives.

What is the most important lesson you have learned from volunteering in end-of-life care? 

It gives me a lot. Everything about death can be scary and horrible for many people, but knowing what happens has given me a greater understanding about life and death. It makes me feel like a better person, makes me a better person. It feels good to know that there is a common desire to contribute, also in the other iLIVE countries.

What message would you like to give to someone who is considering volunteering in end-of-life care?

I would recommend it. You get a new perspective, also on death, by listening to the person who is ill. It is, however, important to know your own limits, as this is not a task for everyone. You need to have the interest and motivation. It is reassuring to learn what happens in this phase of life. Several of the other volunteers ask and show interest in joining this group.

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