When it becomes clear that a patient may be alone at the end of life, perhaps because their family cannot be at the bedside, hospice staff may request a Vigil when the patient transitions to actively dying.

Vigil Program Volunteers work at the bedside of actively dying patients. These specially trained volunteers help Hospice East Bay support its patients every step of the way by bringing relief to family members who are unable to be present for the death of their loved one. Most importantly, they help to ensure patients that they are not alone.

Sitting at the bedside of a patient in the final hours or days of his or her life is a great honor. Often, patients are not conscious during this time and one might assume there is no benefit to having another person in the room. Our hospice staff feels this is a time when another human’s presence can be comforting, calming and supportive – thereby reducing fear and anxiety for the patient.

Vigil Volunteers often say they enter the room of a complete stranger and leave as a special and sacred visitor. Family members regularly comment that it was especially heartwarming for them to know that their loved one was cared for so lovingly.