Editor’s Note: The below post was originally featured on the Dolenan Office of Community-Based Learning Blog on April 6, 2020. You can find the original post at https://communitybasedlearning.me.holycross.edu/2020/04/06/abruptly-saying-goodbye-kathryn-hauver-22/.
By Kathryn Hauver ’22
The last few days we had on campus were filled with abrupt goodbyes, a range of emotions, and the harsh reality that we would all have to leave Holy Cross. CBL students were informed of the cancellations, and suddenly, something that was once so integral to our learning was gone. For my CBL, I volunteer at Rose Monahan Hospice Home on Friday afternoons. During my visit on February 28th, I informed the staff that the next week I would not be in for my shift because of spring break. The nurse told me that the resident I had been meeting with may not still be there when I returned, so I should say goodbye. That day, my resident and I had a lovely time together watching cooking shows. At the end of the visit, I expressed my gratitude for the time we had shared, and her smile warmed my heart. I took a long time saying goodbye, as I knew it would most likely be the last time I saw her. When I was leaving my shift that day, I said my normal goodbyes to the healthcare team, not thinking much of it.
Fast forward to our first week back from spring break. A new panic about COVID-19 permeated campus as everyone eagerly awaited the email regarding Holy Cross’ plan. When I read the email about CBL cancellations, I was very shaken up. I was concerned for Rose Monahan because the home operates by relying on volunteers, and it is a high risk community of COVID-19 infection. At that moment, I was very thankful I was able to say goodbye to my resident, and hoped that other residents would also be able to spend their final moments with their loved ones. I also felt guilty because I didn’t give the Rose Monahan staff a proper goodbye, for I didn’t know my last visit would be my last visit.
I reflected on how I could still express my appreciation for the home and say a more heartfelt goodbye without actually visiting. I decided to make cards for all the residents and send a letter to the staff thanking them for all of their hard work. While it was not how I would have chosen to say goodbye, it was still a way to communicate with my community partner. In terms of saying goodbye in this new environment, I would recommend reaching out to your community partner and spreading some words of support. Kind words can go a long way in times of crisis and may offer the reassurance they need.