Rev. Valerie Kingsbury has seen the ways people avoid talking about death, but she recognizes the value in addressing the topic, and in having an agency to provide support.
Kingsbury has done work in palliative care for about 30 years, and has been with the Colchester-East Hants Hospice Society for seven years. As chair of the society’s board, she is now asking members of the community to step forward and help hospice continue to support those going through the experiences surrounding death.
“Hospice depends on donated dollars to run programs, and cover staffing and the upkeep and maintenance of our building,” she said. “We depend on volunteers to take on many roles. We can’t fulfill our mandate unless we have people who will help us.”
While some volunteers spend time with those who are dying, and their family members, that isn’t the only area where people can help.
“The volunteer program has been a big chunk of hospice since the beginning,” said Lauren Purdy LaRusic, volunteer coordinator. “Along with visiting, volunteers do baking for the palliative care unit at the hospital, gardening around our building, help with fundraising…”
One challenge the Hospice Society faced was when Craig Johnson, who had been the executive director, left at the end of July, to return to university to pursue his Masters. Sandra Janes has been serving as interim executive director until someone is hired, which is expected to be soon.
A lack of funds has resulted in some changes for Hospice. To save money, a staff member who left last year, for personal reasons, was not replaced. Assistance such as the Food from the Heart program, which provided gift cards to help families through a difficult time, has been cut back.
“Little things like the gift cards can mean a lot to some families,” said Sam Molen, palliative social worker. “Sometimes there’s a big loss in income when a family member is dying.”
Molen helps with the emotional issues around death through conversation and caring.
“There are sometimes deep existential conversations that I’m so glad to be part of,” she said. “I want people to have a good death; not scary, but peaceful and beautiful.”
She also organizes death cafés to help people work on things connected with death.
“Our most valuable asset is our staff,” said Kingsbury. “They live out the vision we have, to help people at one of the most difficult times of their lives.”
The hospice has a library, with books for all ages, on dealing with death.
It recently started social club get-togethers, where people can do something like work on a craft in a space where people understand what they’re going through.
Hospice also helps people access support in the community.
For more information on Hospice, visit the website at https://cehhospice.org/ or or call 902-893-3265.
Bucket List 50/50
The Bucket List 50/50 is a fundraiser currently being run by Colchester-East Hants Hospice Society. Players can choose a number, and pay a Toonie a week to play the number.
People can register and play at the Hospice Centre, 89 Queen St., Esso Go Store on Robie St., The Nook and Cranny, NovelTea Bookstore & Café, and Masstown Market.