Presence, Improvisation, Dark Humor: Crucial Skills of a Hospice Nurse

Illustration by Pat Kinsella for AJN.

Illustration by Pat Kinsella for AJN.

Here’s the start of “Molly,” the Reflections essay in the November issue of AJN, written by hospice nurse Thom Schwarz.

Late evening, early spring, the peepers not yet trilling. I am in my car, rain streaking the windshield, reading a New Yorker essay about war writing, an ironic distraction from my visiting hospice nursing work.

This is a piece that doesn’t offer any easy answers for the facts of suffering and death. But it does posit a certain consolation in staying present, undaunted, engaged, and resourceful when faced with the power and mystery of each patient’s encounter with impending death.

All Reflections essays are free, so give it a look.—Jacob Molyneux, senior editor 

Senior editor/social media strategy, American Journal of Nursing, and editor of AJN Off the Charts.


  1. amygetter November 4, 2014 at 8:59 pm

    A queniessential hospice tale… Thank you for sharing so beautifully what those of us in hospice work know vividly: bringing the gift of presence when everything else is done.

  2. Peggy November 3, 2014 at 8:46 pm

    Beautiful. Thank you for your work. Death should be considered part of life as it truly is.

  3. venturestoanomaly November 3, 2014 at 5:02 pm

    Im happy this issue is being discussed more often. Many people are afraid of facing the inevitable truth of death. Hospice is a wonderful alternative to the healthcare monster thats been created.

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