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A PERSONAL MESSAGE FROM UPWORTHY
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hospice

A man walks on a golf course.

For most golfers, the game is as enjoyable as it is frustrating. It’s one of the few sports where, for the most part, you’re playing against yourself. The goal isn’t usually to beat your buddies but to play a few strokes below your last game. It’s all about measurable self-improvement. When you feel like you're getting worse, you get a strange desire to chuck your putter into the nearest pond.

Golf is so challenging that only 50% of people who pick up a club can break a score of 100, which isn’t exactly impressive.

In a heartbreaking Reddit post, a golfer who goes by the name Drumsurf on the forum shared how he learned to enjoy every moment of an unimpressive round because he realized what the game was all about: hanging out with friends and, to put it simply, just being able to play.

Sadly, his great realization came on the final of his life.


“I’m 53 and have been playing since I was 19-20. Love the game. Got diagnosed with stage IV cancer in 2020 and kept playing between chemo sessions, surgeries, etc.” Drumsurf wrote on a May 15, 2024 post. “My cancer has gone nuclear and I took I turn for the worse 2 months ago. I can no longer physically handle playing 18 holes or so much of anything that’s active.”

But that didn’t stop him from playing one last round with his friends. His game started strong but quickly faltered.

“I went today with two long-time friends and managed to play the first three holes 1 over par, but then my lack of fitness caught up to me,” he continued. “I took a double on 4, hit my drive in the water on 5, and spent the rest of the round riding in the cart and nursing a Transfusion. Fun to hang with friends and be out of the house, but I’m done with the game. Brutal, really, as I will miss it greatly.”

He ended his post with a message for everyone who’s ever had a hard time on the course. “Next time you get frustrated with golf remember those of us that can’t play any longer. Hit ‘em straight boys!” Drumsurf wrote.

The piece was a welcome wake-up call to many of the duffers on Reddit’s golf forum who’ve all experienced frustrating rounds.

"Thanks, man. It really puts it all in perspective," Helloholder wrote. "We are all one golfer. You’ll always be out there with us," Downwithflairs added.

"I’ll drive one into the water for you," Head_Attempt joked.

"I will not get mad the next time I hit a garbage shot. I’ll think of you and take inspiration. We are with you, my friend," KbPHoto wrote.

Some people paid tribute to Drumsurf by writing his name on their golf balls to remember his wisdom on their next round.

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After the post went viral, Drumsurf updated it by thanking everyone who chimed in with messages of support. “Thanks for all the well wishes,” Drumsurf wrote. “My battle is over. Stopped all treatment last month and started hospice care last week. I’m 100% at peace with it all.”

True
Dignity Health 2017

Musician Terrie Miley always wears a smile. What makes her unique is who she smiles for, and how she keeps it up.

As a hospice musician, Miley’s everyday work involves going to see patients who are in their final hours and using music as a way to help people tell their stories. "The story of their lives," as she puts it.  

Image via Dignity Health/Upworthy.


While many of us would do anything to avoid the idea of coming face-to-face with our own mortality or sharing space with a total stranger who is on the brink of death, Miley has chosen to face it every single day in hopes of bringing them peace in their final hours.

Most people who volunteer walk away with the knowledge that they’ve made a difference; Miley walks away knowing that she has just said goodbye.

But with such intense emotional labor comes the need for self-care.

For Miley and her colleagues at Dignity Health, the team decided to enact a mindfulness program consisting of meditation and breathing exercises to help their employees feel present during those long, hard hours on the job.

The premise for this program is a simple but powerful one: To be compassionate towards others, we first have to be compassionate toward ourselves — if only for a few minutes.

For hospice workers like Miley, then, finding moments of pause gives them the peace and attention needed to do this work in a healthy way.

And when it's built into the work culture, this kind of reflection isn't just an afterthought. It's a practice, and it's one that's transforming how caregivers like Miley approach their jobs.

How do they do it? Have a look for yourself:

This program helps you focus on the now. And the effects on your health can be enormous.

Posted by Upworthy on Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Miley knows better than anyone that while helping these patients is rewarding, it can take a mental and emotional toll on caregivers.

When offering the humble gift of musical bliss and human connection, it’s not always easy being confronted with life’s biggest hurdle: death.

"Hospice is challenging work, in ways that you might not consider," Miley explains.

Because Miley’s job description includes being present for those who don’t have loved ones in their final hours, it requires a level of emotional investment that she has to sustain in every moment of her work.

Whether it's a guided meditation after lunch or a walking meditation on a break, these moments of reflection make all the difference for caregivers like Miley, who too easily forget themselves while caring for others.

For Miley, it’s a reminder of why we need to slow down during the daily grind.

Life is short, and while that knowledge may sit in the back of our minds, it’s important to remember that our day-to-day existence is about so much more than work.

Miley's story is an important reminder that for every connection we offer to others, it's just as important to pause and reconnect with ourselves.

To make this work sustainable, then, mindfulness is everything.

"When you’re in hospice, it is definitely about the moment. It is about being present with that person and creating healing in that moment," said Heidi Summers, senior director of mission integration and education at Dignity Health.

Miley puts it best when she says, "Being present is the only thing that matters."

True
Prudential

When Christine Powers was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 1995, she took it in stride.

No one would have blamed her if she had complained, but that wasn't her way.

Christine in New York City. All photos via Gerry Powers, used with permission.


It was the same thing when Christine was diagnosed with malignant skin cancer in 2000.

Even when the cancer reappeared later, seven years after being cancer-free, she kept her composure. That time, the cancer had spread to her brain. After multiple operations and a multi-year battle, it was clear the cancer was terminal, so her family opted to get Christine hospice care.

For anyone not familiar with it, the term "hospice" can seem like it carries some mysterious and scary connotations, but it actually refers to a type of medical and emotional care for people in the last stages of a terminal illness. It helps them and their families manage the end of life with as much compassion as possible by focusing on the quality of life instead of continuing often painful treatments to prolong it.

Samantha Lee is one of the hospice aids who helped care for Christine in her last years. 

"Christine was the youngest patient I ever had," Samantha says. "I was in love with that family so much."

The Powers family.

Hospice nurses and aides try to ensure a patient isn't in pain and help them — as much as possible — live their final days with dignity.

When Samantha helped take care of Christine, she came to the house five days a week, four hours at a time. She would cook, wash clothes, run errands, talk with Christine, and then work with her to try to keep her energy and mood up. She helped her do some exercises, and she encouraged her to do one major project a day to keep her spirits up.

"Our home aides knew Christine really, really well," Gerry Powers, Christine's husband, fondly recalls.

Gerry and Christine Powers.

And they were with her until the end, making her as comfortable as possible and the family as cared for as possible.

"You can be intellectually prepared for a loss, if someone in your life is declining," Gerry says. "But I don't think you’re ever really emotionally prepared when it happens. That’s the thing."

Samantha says people's eyes get big when she tells them she's a hospice worker, caring for patients at the end of their lives.

"They'll say, 'Oh, you’re a hospice aide? Wow, must be hard. Why do you like that?'" she mimics over the phone.

But you can tell by her voice just how much she loves her job. She says she's grateful that she can be there to help the patients and their loved ones through this difficult time.

"[This job] changed me around," she says. "It made me more soft on the inside, more compassionate and humbled."

One thing Samantha has learned from her work is the importance of having conversations about death and dying early on.

It's not an easy thing to do, but talking openly about death can bring some comfort to the end of life.

Especially in Western countries, talking about death is kind of taboo and invokes anxiety and fear in many of us. But if a loved one dies without ever having shared their end-of-life wishes, it can add extra stress and confusion during crisis mode.

"You have one family member that feels that this is not the way to live, that [the loved one] should go," says Samantha. "Then you have the other family member that wants to hold on."

She says that if people start conversations about what they want when they get to the end, then it shouldn't be a problem when the time actually comes.Family members will know exactly what they need to do and be able to spend more time focusing on their loved one and taking care of themselves.

Gerry and Christine.

Samantha says that her work as a hospice worker has also given her a new perspective on life and death.

"I look at life much different," she says.

"It really doesn't make sense to be so angry and have a lot of hatred in your heart because nobody knows when their time is up."

More

After getting sick, this 15-year-old missed her favorite band — until they surprised her.

After playing an amphitheater the night before, the rock band stopped to visit a fan.

On Thursday night, rock band Florence and the Machine played to a packed crowd at the Austin360 Amphitheater in Austin, Texas.

As usual, lead singer Florence Welch wowed the audience with her theatrics and powerful voice.

But something was missing.


Photo by Mauricio Santana/Getty Images.

A 15-year-old girl at nearby Hospice Austin's Christopher House was confined to her bed and unable to attend the concert.

She and her best friend had long planned to attend that night's Florence and the Machine concert. Unfortunately, she landed in hospice and was too weak to make it.

She was crushed, but good news was right around the corner.

The day after the band's Austin concert, Welch and guitarist Rob Ackroyd decided to make that 15-year-old's dream come true — with a private concert.

It's not every day you go from performing in front of thousands of people to joining just a roomful of people in song and celebration — but that's exactly what Welch and Ackroyd did. At the hospice, the two played through songs such as "Shake It Out" and "Dog Days Are Over," with Welch holding the patient's hand and focusing her energy.

Even watching the video takes you into this sort of otherworldly, joyous experience.

Photo via Hospice Austin's Christopher House/YouTube.

There were smiles, there were tears, and above all, there was love filling that room.

Welch was even pretty impressed with the harmonies being sung by some of the visitors.

GIFs via Hospice Austin's Christopher House.

And of course, there was clapping.

In a Facebook post, Hospice Austin nurse Lev Baesh remarked on the experience of being in that room.

"I spend half of my days exhausted after working the other half as a hospice nurse. Today, I dragged myself back to the hospice house after three 12+ hour shifts to witness a gift."

And what a wonderful gift it was.

It was a reminder that no matter how dark the world seems at times, there are moments of great beauty and love sprinkled throughout. When times get tough, remember those moments because they give great hope.

You can watch Florence Welch and her new friends sing "Shake It Out" in the video below.