If you have accompanied a loved one as they die, perhaps you can relate to Terri and Patti’s reflections on their experience earlier this year. Their dad’s illness had progressed and they were faced with the time they dreaded since his diagnosis.
“We found ourselves preparing his room at the continuing care facility for what we hoped would be a peaceful death. We brought in a fan and a CD player, and snuck in a lamp for softer lighting. The staff were kind, but their priority was on the needs of living residents not the death of our dad or walking us through the process.”
The dying process is not something that most of us know about or are comfortable with. Even in hospitals and long-term care facilities where most deaths take place, families often struggle with how to honour their loved one, while coping with their own grief.
“We felt we had to hide our grief, we didn’t want to upset anyone. One of the hardest things was not having privacy or a place to cry.”
Edmonton’s first residential community hospice – the Roozen Family Hospice Centre, built and operated by Pilgrims Hospice Society- will offer comfort, privacy, spaces to be together or for quiet reflection, along with specialized support for the whole family.
The focus of care is quality of life from diagnosis, through death and the grief journey of loved ones.
For Dave’s family, the relationship with Pilgrims began after his illness had progressed beyond what they could handle on their own. “It was devastating for everyone. Dad was always active and outgoing. As his disease advanced, he was increasingly isolated and lonely,” shares Terri, “Discovering Pilgrims Hospice Day Program was a godsend -it became the highlight of Dad’s week to visit hospice where he was engaged, celebrated and among friends.”
You may think of hospice as a sad place but the reality is, there is often laughter. There is always compassion. Specialized staff understand the complexities that come with progressive illness and the challenges facing caregivers and loved ones. Trained volunteers bring open hearts to enrich everyone’s experience.
Unfortunately, Dave’s death came before completion of Edmonton’s new hospice. Construction started this fall. With your support, doors will be open by the end of 2020 offering purpose-designed space for established programs, including the Hospice Day Program and grief support for all ages, in addition to 24/7 residential care…all in homelike comfort in a welcoming, community setting.
Despite their grieving, Dave’s family have been steadfast advocates for Pilgrims Hospice and the development of the Roozen Family Hospice Centre.
“We wish Dad could have been there, but it brings us comfort to pay forward the incredible support that Pilgrims offered him and our family as his illness progressed…and to know that in the new hospice home, such a comfortable, supportive space will be available for families.”
One thing a terminal diagnosis or death teaches you is that every day matters.
Your help today ensures that anyone facing loss can access support to live their best life with dignity-even through dying; that grief care is available for all ages, and that Edmonton has a place dedicated to the end of life journey for you and your loved ones. Your gift now can be the loving hands that makes this support possible.
Monica Robson, Executive Director, Pilgrims Hospice Society
P.S. This is a critical time for Pilgrims as we continue to deliver services – at no cost – from a temporary location while our new home is built. Your support now couldn’t be more meaningful.