Memorial Hermann Moments

Lis’ Story: What I’ve Learned About Life From Facing Death

By Lis Mogensen

Most of us don’t want to think about death—even in our final days. 

As a certified nurse assistant with Memorial Hermann Hospice, I take care of people who are dying. I’ve learned that although we know death is inevitable, many aren’t ready when the end comes. 

This may be because society finds it tough to talk about death. It’s almost taboo. 

But I think, talk and deal with death a lot. Here’s what I’ve learned from doing so.

Lesson One: Love conquers all 

I’ve always had a heart for taking care of others. That’s why I chose to get special training to be certified as a hospice aide.

When I first meet patients, they may not want to accept that they are in hospice care because they are dying.

I help them shower, dress, get in and out of bed or anything else they no longer can do on their own. I’m there to help them feel comfortable.

It's all about them—and my focus is on what I can do to help.

I often start our conversations by talking about my family and my now-grown children.

Sharing about my life helps build a trusting relationship. When they tell me about their own kids or grandkids, that’s the moment I know they’re opening up. Any time we talk about loved ones, it comes from the heart.

In the end, it’s our loved ones—and memories made together—who matter most.

Lesson Two: We’re not promised tomorrow—live like it

As patients and I grow closer, they often ask how my work affects me mentally and emotionally.

Some days are hard. But others are so fulfilling. I love being with and helping people. That’s why I have so much compassion for my patients and their families. They give me so much back.

The reality of death, and living with death, makes me aware that we’re not promised tomorrow.

When you fully accept that, you appreciate every single day you’re given.

That’s the gift my patients have given me—and now you.

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