Better Quality of Life
Pam started with Vital Decisions in 2016 as Living Well Supervisor. She received her MA from NYU in Drama Therapy, which she says blended her passion for theater and her desire to be of service to others. Pam has worked with older adults and their families in various settings including nursing homes, Adult Day Care programs, hospice, non-profits and is also a trained End of Life Doula.
During an internship at a VA hospital, I asked if I could work with some of the residents on the hospice unit. My supervisor laughed and said “no one ever asks that!” But something drew me in! I found it to be such a special honor to meet people in this last chapter of life, learn their stories, celebrate life, and, if they were ready, plan for death. It was everything I loved most about theater: relational, urgent, intimate and an opportunity to co-create meaningful moments.
The relationships I have forged bring so much joy. It’s such an honor to support Specialists as they accompany clients during difficult and vulnerable times. I am constantly learning from colleagues and clients alike. Doing this work has helped me connect more deeply to my own values. It and has taught me to be present and to actively cultivate a practice of joy and gratitude.
I grew up visiting nursing homes and attending funerals with my family and church groups, but we never talked about aging, illness or death. As an adult, I have experienced the confusion, conflict and heartache that can happen when people don’t have a thorough, value-based, advance care plan. Although the conversations can be wrought, I fully believe this is life affirming and life changing work.
Jacob L Moreno, the founder of Psychodrama, who coined the term “group therapy,” taught that all the resources and answers needed at any given time could be found within the group. I have learned the truth of this during my time here from every team of Supervisors and Specialists I have worked with. I used to think I needed to have all of the answers, but no more. There is nothing like trusting the wisdom of the group. Each individual has valuable perspective and experience that adds to the “pool of meaning” and allows us all to flourish.
Just one thing?!? This work can break you down, or break you open. But — it is rare to find a more supportive environment in which to grow, or more amazing colleagues to grow with. Quoting Floyd, a Specialist who started last year, “this is the hardest job I’ve ever loved!”