TRURO – Laurie Gunn knows just how important it is to listen.
The Truro Heights resident has been a volunteer with the Colchester East Hants Hospice Society for about four years. The society provides care and support for families facing serious illness, death and grief. During her years as a volunteer, Gunn has learned a lot about herself and others.
“Death is a part of life. Most people want to push it under the carpet but if you’re allowed to express feelings it helps with the healing,” said Gunn.
“To me, it’s OK to cry with somebody and to be a good volunteer you need to be able to listen. And you can tell the person they will come out OK on the other side.”
Gunn, who is a support facilitator with the hospice’s grief support group and special activities, said there are rewards to all involved: the people in palliative care and their loved ones when a death occurs, as well as the volunteer.
“When people can share with you it is a blessing. You feel good about being there for them. It’s a privilege and honour and you feel good you were able to share their journey.”
And the compassion and companionship is a blessing to clients, added Gunn.
“They are happy you are there to listen and just be here. It’s not all sadness … there is laughter (in special) memories too.”
Being a hospice volunteer ultimately led to personal healing for Gunn as well.
“I had no idea I had unresolved grief until I went through the training. Then I realized I had to resolve it and it made me a stronger person.”
Truro’s Carolyn Hunt has been a hospice volunteer for about four years. She goes to the hospital weekly to visit palliative care clients.
“Every time you leave you always take something meaningful away. You establish a connection and that’s what you take home,” Hunt said, adding she “had a desire to do this because I thought I’d be able to make (the death process) easier for people.”
Hunt hopes more volunteers come forward. She said just about everyone can relate because each person has been affected by death. Caring for people in such times can benefit everyone, she said, and can help make the community a stronger, more compassionate place to live.
Hospice society seeking more volunteers
TRURO – Volunteers are needed at the local hospice society to accommodate a growing need.
Nick Sharpe, marketing and recruiter at the Colchester East Hants Hospice Society, told the Truro Daily News that even with about 30 volunteers, many more people are required to help with the various programs and support initiatives the organization offers.
“We’re in a growth phase and volunteers are the most valuable resources we can have,” said Sharpe, adding the hospice society serves people in both Colchester and East Hants counties so the need for assistance is even more vital.
“There’s a significant need for support in the community. Death is a certainty and people need access to support. It can really make (the death process) a more positive experience,” said Sharpe.
Volunteers have a number of options, including helping with support groups, visiting palliative care patients, assisting with community groups, fundraising and special projects, creating awareness of the society and aiding with practical chores that some clients may need help with.
Candidates should be compassionate and a good listener. Potential volunteers will fill out an application, be interviewed and screened before being accepted and trained.
Sharpe also wants to shatter a misconception about volunteering with the hospice society.
“People think it’s morbid and sad all the time. Yes, it can be heavy at times but it’s a great experience and very rewarding.”
For more information, or to apply to volunteer, drop into the hospice centre on the Esplanade, near Truro Home Video, or call 893-3265.