Longtime and beloved Hospice of Santa Cruz County volunteer, Bobbie Bihn died on February 28, 2014. In her 34 years of volunteer service, Bobbie remained a calm, gentle presence and support for grieving community members and hospice families.
We had many opportunities to honor Bobbie for her compassionate work. A few years ago, we sat down with her and she shared how she came to hospice volunteering. Here is her story of a life well lived:
Bobbie’s interest in hospice began when she attended the Death and Dying class at Cabrillo College in the late 1970’s. Bobbie was drawn in when one of her classmates told the story of how her grandmother died at home with the support of hospice. She had never heard of hospice before, but felt the need to learn more. So in 1980, when Hospice of Santa Cruz County was just two years old, Bobbie signed up as a volunteer and began answering the phones. “People would call and it was an honor to help them,” Bobbie remembers. Four years later, she attended the first grief support training offered by Hospice and found her niche.
Bobbie facilitated a weekly drop-in grief support group open to anyone in our community who has experience the loss of a loved one. “As a facilitator of the group, the most important thing I do is give participants space. It’s always fascinating to me how people interact with each other. There’s a thread that runs through each of us – a common bond that has brought people together. I don’t try to make them feel better – I can’t. I can only create the space where they can share their grief and know that others understand,” Bobbie says.
Many come reluctantly, Bobbie shares. “But, at the end of the session, they see they are with others who understand, and I invite them to join one of the upcoming 8-week groups. Almost all of them join a group. And, the healing begins.”
Bobbie shared that she felt privileged to be a part of the healing journey and acknowledged how much her volunteering had enriched her own life. “I am always happy to go… each week….I always look forward to it.”
Bobbie Bihn will be remembered for the many gifts of kindness, humor, and compassion that she shared with our community. She lived from her heart and we all were the recipients of that loving kindness.