If I was asked what the biggest lesson that I have learned in my 23 years was, I would say the most important thing to remember is that you can’t always follow a plan. A plan should be a rough sketch but should never be a strict outline. When I was in college, my biggest dream was to become a sports journalist for the Chicago Blackhawks. At present, the little girl in me would have said that I failed to make my dreams a reality but the adult in me thinks I’ve accomplished way more than I could have hoped for. Hospice and Palliative Care are both such rewarding experiences to be a part of and I wouldn’t change anything about the plans I had in the past which got me to where I am now.
Often times I get asked why I am working in an end-of-life career at such a young age. With my background in journalism and telecommunications, this obviously wasn’t part of my “plan.” Back in February when I started working for the company, this question was a little more difficult to answer but now that I have some experience working for Transitions Hospice and Palliative Care, I can say that it was worth my journey, very worth my trip.
A lot of people don’t know that my biggest fear up until recently was death. I was terrified of the unknown and leaving this world behind, especially my friends and family. Transitions has taught me that death is not a fearful experience; it’s a beautiful one. You hear stories about people passing away in a terrible manner and perhaps that caused my fear. Now that I have seen death in a peaceful light, I realized that it was very naive of me to have this fear for so long.
Sometimes when I’m having a hard day at work, I wonder if I would ever go back and truly pursue sports journalism again. Then I have days where I am helping people in this difficult part of their life and I know that I am truly making a difference. For that rewarding feeling, I wouldn’t trade my position for anything, not even the Blackhawks. It’s not always the easiest job to have but I would take the challenge each and every day if it meant I could change one more person’s life.
I want people to understand that hospice is not a scary concept; death should be a dignified and peaceful transition. Being alone in one’s final moments in life is indeed a very frightening idea but knowing that my company puts always do the right thing and no one dies alone first, makes me even more proud to say that I am a part of something so wonderful.
So why am I working in hospice and palliative care at this young age of 23? It’s because I feel a sense of comfort knowing that I can help people in one of the most, if not the most, difficult time of their lives. It’s not just about the patient, it’s also about helping the families who are left to cope with the passing of a loved one. Whenever I see an email or a letter come in about how great our staff was with a patient and their family, it re-emphasizes to me why everyone in this company is doing what they do.
I could not be more thankful that I drifted off of my plan. I get to work with amazing, caring and generous individuals every day that come together to form one incredible team. Whether I am a 23-year-old working for the company or a 90-year-old needing their services, I will forever be grateful for this program and all that it encompasses.
Written by Elena Sullivan
Elena is a graduate of Ball State University and is proud to be starting her professional career as a Regional Hospice and Palliative Coordinator for Transitions. She aspires to pursue a Master’s Degree in Social Work so that she can continue to help others in need. She is extremely thankful for her mom, dad, brother and boyfriend for constantly pushing her to be the best that she can be. Elena is also very grateful for Jim and Marilyn Palazzo for giving her this opportunity and teaching her that the right way is the only way.