Alumna of the Issue: Lilly Lerer


Lilly Lerer ‘10 currently works at the hospice center at the Visiting Nurse Association in Dallas. She trains volunteers to spend time with hospice patients. Check out our next issue to learn more about Lerer and her time with hospice patients.

What is the best interaction you have had with a patient?

Oh, that is a tough question. I’ve seen lots and lots of dying people. [I have] two favorites. One was I took the oral history, like the life story of a 102-year-old man who was clear as the light of day, and was in fact a professional oral historian. It was really meta. I was taking the life history of a historian as he was dying. It was crazy. This guy was hysterical, too. I would be like, “I gotta stop, I’m tired.” And he would be like, “Why? Why can’t we just keep going?” The second one was [with] this man; he was in his 60s and he was dying of lung cancer, and this was in Chicago [when] I worked for a hospice there, and he had never been to the aquarium! And Chicago has this really cool aquarium, and he was like, “I just need to see the aquarium before I die.” So we wheeled him into the aquarium with his oxygen tank and everything, and he loved it.

What is the best piece of advice you have received from a patient?

A woman who had been married to her husband for 70 years told me to never to go to sleep mad at your partner.

What led you to work in hospice care?

I lived in a zen monastery after my freshman year of college. I met a number of zen hospice people, and there’s actually a lot of overlap between the zen and hospice worlds. It was a very natural progression from zen into hospice.