Seven Ways Eleventh-Hour Volunteers Ease the Transition from Life to Death

Seven Ways Eleventh-Hour Volunteers Ease the Transition from Life to Death

A basic tenet of hospice care is that no one should die alone without the supportive presence of loved ones. Eleventh-hour volunteers, made available and trained by many hospices, keep vigil to provide a comforting presence needed by patients and families in the final hours of life.

Patients who have little or no family members nearby often find themselves isolated and alone during their last days. A trained volunteer can help fill the need for compassion, concern, love, comfort and healing touch in the last days or hours when a loved-one is not available – or when family members need to step away or need support themselves.

These special volunteers usually undergo 10 hours of specialized training.

Nurses, social workers, bereavement counselors and other experts speak to the volunteers about the physical, psychosocial and spiritual aspects of a person imminently dying, including what happens to the body as it shuts down. Volunteers are scheduled in shifts, usually four-hour blocks of time, with the goal of providing a constant vigil, either with volunteers, staff, family members or friends.

Eleventh-hour volunteers can help by:

  1. Being a calm presence during a difficult time
  2. Sitting with the patient and/or family
  3. Talking softly or singing to the patient
  4. Sharing a sacred silence
  5. Holding hands, massaging hands or feet
  6. Praying, reading inspirational text or scripture
  7. Honoring cultural and faith traditions of the patient

Eleventh-hour volunteers give the precious gift of being emotionally and mentally present as they honor the patient and make his or her transition from life to death a little easier.

Covenant Care currently has 120 trained eleventh-hour volunteers providing support to patients and families throughout our service area in Northwest Florida and Southern Alabama. To learn more, visit or call