The thought of dying is difficult enough for many to process.
But what if you didn't have the comfort of a loved one at your bedside as you took your last breath?
No one should experience that. And the clergy and volunteers at Health First are on a mission to make sure it doesn't happen.
Health First's No One Dies Alone (NODA) program delivers that solace to terminally ill patients who have no family or friends close by.
"Death is just a natural progression - we're all going to do it," says Kathleen, a NODA volunteer who doesn't consider her role a noble one. "It's very worthwhile. It's not noble. We are better for it. We get more out of it, truthfully. At least I do as a volunteer."
Kathleen describes it as an opportunity to be a compassionate companion for the dying - and even more for the living. She's one of more than 80 active volunteers for NODA who have held more than 110 vigils for dying patients since June 2016.
NODA was started by the Rev. Chaplain Derly Foerste, Manager of Pastoral and Spiritual Care at Health First. Most volunteers are Health First associates, but civilians can join the cause, too. All four Health First hospitals, as well as Hospice, can request the service.
"Why should there not be someone there with us when we die?" Chaplain Derly says.
Most NODA patients are unable to respond, but Chaplain Derly says just being present helps. Hearing is thought to be the last sense to leave.
Kathleen believes that, speaking often to her patients.
"I always say, 'I wish you could talk back to me. I'd like to have known you before all this happened to you.' And I'm a firm believer that they're going someplace better."