No One Should Die Alone

By Sheena King

From PHN Issue 45, Winter 2021

My name is Sheena King, and after 28 years of incarceration in a female facility, I have witnessed many women provide care for each other in various ways. We provided simple things for each other, such as throat lozenges and acetaminophen for a cold or flu, or ibuprofen for pain or injuries. We push wheelchairs for our sisters and help them up and down steps.

As a volunteer hospice worker, I can attest that there is nothing more rewarding, yet heartbreaking. I have never been more aware of my own aging body and mortality. There is a heaviness that settles over you and a keen awareness of the fear and loneliness of the woman lying in front of you. It breaks your heart but any sign of anguish from me would only increase her fear. You must just be. That is the sole purpose, to be with her, ease her loneliness and pray or read from a Holy Book if she wants you to. This isn’t about you.

For myself and other volunteers that I have spoken to, it is imperative to be spiritually connected to a Higher Source. For me, it is God. When I am not with my hospice patient, I pray for her, her family and for strength for myself so that I can be there for her as she needs me to be. When she dies, many of us cry and allow each other the space to talk. I will generally journal about the experience, read scripture, and meditate to re-center, re-orient myself.

I would be lying if I said I wasn’t affected by each death. It’s something you don’t forget, but I do it because no one should die alone in a cold, uncaring prison infirmary

Helping Others Helped Me

By John W. Dunn

From PHN Issue 45, Winter 2021

I walked into a unit and saw an inmate/patient that was being ignored. His name was Michael. He was paralyzed and refusing treatment and meals. Officer Threat-Johnson allowed me to feed him, and give him company. Michael became my friend. He started eating, gaining weight, and got better. He has since been sent to an outside institution.

That was my beginning. Now I only care for paralyzed, extremely ill, and mentally challenged inmates/patients.

This service of caring for others has a two-fold reward. I, too, receive healing in my spirit. I never knew I possessed this ability, and am happy to be of service. I have been trained in all areas of healing this prison has to offer.

I have always had a problem writing about myself. But I’d be nothing without the ability to assist the men here at CHCF.

This has to be the most rewarding experience in my life. If I should ever get out, I want to work with our wounded warriors. I personally believe I would be awesome at it.