Live the rest of your life with help from Hospice Dufferin

August 24, 2018   ·   0 Comments

By Sara Rose

Life is precarious. I’ve been coming to know that for a long time. Laughter and moments sink into our hearts, families and friendships are built, our loved ones often leave us too soon, and wrapping our hearts around an understanding can be difficult. There are some things that suggest no explanation, and some that haven’t the thinnest drop of reason. There is a connection between living and dying, only it is a road that remains seldom walked until it touches our lives and finds a space in the corner of our hearts.

My name is Sara Rose and I am a singer-songwriter from Orangeville. At Hospice Dufferin, I worked as a social work student and employee throughout 2017 and 2018. I got to know this organization and the driving hearts behind it quite well over the last year and a half.

With a staff of four and a team of volunteers, Hospice Dufferin serves about 400 clients annually and exists to support and empower people living with life-limiting illnesses, their caregivers and the bereaved to live fully in the face of challenge while providing peace, comfort, and dignity; improving the quality of life at any stage of an illness experience.

Many aren’t fully aware of the kind of care a community hospice provides, or that there has been one residing in the parameters of our community since 1988. I was negative 8 years old at the time, but am someone who found comfort in tip-toeing around the “death and dying subject” at large. Then I walked through Hospice Dufferin’s door.

The last year and a half has led me down a road I consider myself having been a stranger to. The knowledge I obtained of palliative care was rather limited in terms of understanding the integral components that are indicative of where the focus, heart, and values of this form of care reside. The misconceived and sometimes-negative undertone prevailed with the word “hospice” and belief that it is solely limited to death is presumed at large. It freaks a lot of people out – it scared me. Dying is certainly a piece, but comfort and quality of life are also major shares.

So often we paint a portrait of a human life by how it finishes. When we are touched by an illness or a death, we carry the emotional, physical and spiritual weight and it can be jarring and profoundly difficult.

Someone close to my heart recently said she felt as though she was dying in pieces, not all at once. My heart felt comparable to being pulled apart from all angles with her. One of the greatest things I’ve learned from spending time with hospice though, is to also look at the life that is left and what can be done to improve its quality, and to live in a state of now. To keep the gates in front of your heart wide open is to allow yourself to process and feel what it means to be alive and have this conversation. As snoopy always says, one day we will die, but on the rest of the days we live. Hospice Dufferin supports this process through walking the road of tending to emotional, spiritual and physical needs and desires alongside us.

From the moment I showed up at their door, I felt the welcoming inclusivity, acceptance, respect, community and warmth that fills its environment. I was at a place that touched my heart every day I was there, and I don’t intend to sound trite when I say I have never seen a group of people working so passionately and whole-heartedly towards providing quality care and services. I am proud to be a citizen of the community with this hospice in it.

As a non-profit organization, Hospice Dufferin is responsible for fundraising 70% of their annual operating budget to maintain financial sustainability, which works out to rest at approximately $158,000. The Local Health Integrated Network provides the remaining 30% of the total budget, but fundraising this sum can be a significant challenge for a small organization.

Hospice Dufferin offers one-on-one support and various, diverse group programs to Dufferin County. They are always humbly here for our community, and we tend to hold their volume down in our heads.

Death and dying must be thought about and spoken of more widely. We as a society and community must do better with this. The end of life is just as an important part of life as living and being born are, and it’s something that inevitably crosses everyone’s minds and lives. We need to let our hearts onto the outside of our rib cages and grow towards enhanced comfortability in moving around the rigidness sitting around the edges and corners of this topic, because there is nothing more human than this.

One of the greatest things we can do as decent human beings is be there for each other. I have heard many clients say they feel at home at hospice, where illness experiences are related to, explored and understood. When you step foot through hospice’s doors, you feel like you aren’t alone.

Support your local hospice. Let grief and fear, and this conversation, into your home – talk to them and give them a cold drink. They simply want to be recognized – otherwise they merely hang around.

I don’t think I will ever fall back from being a supporter and advocate for enhanced quality palliative care.

The next opportunity to support Hospice Dufferin is September 8th at the In-Memoriam Life Centre for the 30th Anniversary Bucket List Bash Gala with live music, incredible food, raffles, and live art. Contact Maureen Riedler, Hospice Dufferin’s Executive Director, to purchase your ticket and celebrate with us: / 519 942 3313 ext. 1.

“To not think of dying is to not think of living” – Jann Arden

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