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Hospice Volunteer’s Poetry Reveals Gratitude for Time with Patients

Thank you for telling me your story through your hands,
and thank you for holding mine.

In the last verse of the award-winning poem by Angela Crawford, she conveys her gratitude to her patients for allowing her to sit with them in their final hours. Angela, who was recently named the Dean of the College of Business at Thomas Moore University, is an 11th Hour volunteer for Bluegrass Hospice Care in northern Kentucky, part of Bluegrass Care Navigators.

The poem, “Thank You for Holding My Hand”, was written by Angela soon after sitting with a hospice patient who passed away. Eleventh-hour volunteers are trained for the special role of keeping vigil and providing 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 and comfort 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.
Kimberly Heestand, a Community Engagement Coordinator in the northern KY office, suggested that Angela submit her poem for the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization’s (NHPCO) annual Poetry contest in 2016. Kimberly states, “The poem is beautiful and coincides nicely with the work volunteers do!”

A spiritual person, Angela believes God moves through people. “I have hope for something after this. I don’t see dying as a complete end. But it does inspire me when I’m sitting with a patient.” That is how she was inspired to write her poem. At the end of each semester, she sends this poem along with others, to her students hoping they will be inspired as well.

Angela’s poem placed second overall in the NHPCO competition, and she was presented with a printed certificate and gift card. She was surprised to learn she had placed and said, “I thought it was really awesome!”

Since taking on a new role at the university, Angela doesn’t have as much time to volunteer as she would like. However, she still helps when she can. “We have a limited amount of time, but if we can serve people, that makes such a difference,” says Angela.

If you are interested in finding out how to volunteer with Bluegrass Care Navigators, please go to


Thank you for Holding my Hand

As I hold your hand I feel the joy that your mother must have felt
when she clasped your tiny hand in hers for the very first time.

The pride your father felt when he used his strong hands to place you on his shoulders,
so you could get a better view… and the world would see you.

The hands you used to feel the grip of the steering wheel in your first car,
and the ones that finally got the nerve to hold your sweetheart’s hand for the
first time…and then to dance at your wedding.

The hands that worked hard to make a living and to care for your family,
the ones friends and family knew would always be there to lift them up when they would fall.

The hands that cuddled children, cared for pets and held your sweetheart at the end.

So today, it is time for your hands to rest, but for me your precious hands are a reminder.
To never miss a day holding the hands of those I love,
And to use my hands while I still can, to do more good in the world.

Thank you for telling me your story through your hands,
and thank you for holding mine.

Written By: Angela Crawford
Hospice of the Bluegrass Volunteer, NKY

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