They Comfort Strangers, So No One Dies Alone When someone is dying, and they don't have loved ones to be with them, David Wynn and Carolyn Lyon rush to the hospital to be by their sides. The work is emotionally draining, but has its rewards.

They Comfort Strangers, So No One Dies Alone

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/565948727/566326470" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

It's Friday, which means we hear from StoryCorps. Many of us spent Thanksgiving with family and friends. And today, we have a story about those who are alone. David Wynn and Carolyn Lyon volunteer at St. Joseph Hospital in Orange, Calif. And when patients who are near death do not have loved ones to be with them, David and Carolyn step in.

CAROLYN LYON: They have no one for various reasons. You know, they've outlived family. They've never married.

DAVID WYNN: For some reason, I always wonder about the person's mother. She saw him first, and I saw him last. It was her and me that are the bookends of this person's life. So each time that I leave a patient who has died, there is this element of sadness. But I remember this one gentleman that I was with. The nurses said that he was estranged from his family. And I was sitting there with him. And I heard somebody at the door. Turns out it's his son. And he, I guess, felt a little bit uncomfortable, and so he asked me to stay. And then his sister came in. And these are people who hadn't seen each other in maybe 10 or 20 years. They were apologizing to each other.

I remember the daughter saying, you know, I don't even know why I was angry at you. I don't even remember. And they made this reconciliation at the very end of his life like that. And they said, we're going to try to be a family again. You know, we talk about the last senses to go would be the sense of touch and hearing. And I hope that there was enough left of the dad that he had some sense that this bad situation had been healed through his death. And I felt like, you know, just this feeling of honor that I was part of this.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

INSKEEP: David Wynn and Carolyn Lyon for StoryCorps in Santa Ana, Calif. Their story will be archived at the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress. Remember, StoryCorps' Great Thanksgiving Listen is this week. If you would like to record with your loved ones, you can find out how by going to thegreatlisten.org.

Copyright © 2017 NPR. All rights reserved. Visit our website terms of use and permissions pages at www.npr.org for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by Verb8tm, Inc., an NPR contractor, and produced using a proprietary transcription process developed with NPR. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.