There is a saying that comes to my mind “if you can talk about it without crying then you’ve healed”. My wife died three years ago but it will be about 10,000 years before I can share our story without tears.
I would like to tell you about the Bruce Peninsula Hospice (BPH) Volunteers who came every week and the care they offered. They came into our home for close to two years, bringing with them a breath of fresh air.
I was married for 41 years and was a caregiver for my wife for about 12 years. I didn’t even recognize myself as a “caregiver” until about seven years into it, because you just do what you need to do! Right? Over those years, we had lots of doctors and nurses coming into our home, PSWs coming through the week for a couple of hours a day. They came in and got things done. Then, in the last couple of years before she died, we got a call from the BPH Client Care Coordinator. I already had all these people coming through my house and I was a wreck. But she persisted, “I want to come and see you”. I had doctors coming in, nurse practitioners, nurses, PSWs, occupational therapists and now this woman calls me. She goes on to say, “We have trained volunteers that come and sit”. Exhausted, I said sure, thinking; let’s see what this is about.
But this is what I really want to share with you…their time with us changed my world. The hospice volunteer visitors changed my world because yes, they were there for Marie, but they were also there for me. They brought so much love and experience to us. They were so loving and caring.
At first, I didn’t know what to make of this, but there was no denying they gave us something powerful. I looked forward to their visits. They became like family. They came in and got to know us, our interests, our family members, our family stories, what we liked to do. By this time, Marie’s disease had progressed to the point that she was not very verbal, she could say yes or no answers, she could not walk unassisted anymore. It was tough. So they combed her hair, massaged her hands and painted her nails. They knew she loved music so they brought music that she liked, as well as books that they read to her. And this is what is so incredible; they would just sit if Marie just wanted to sit quietly, which she did a lot. And I remember that they would sit there for hours, and Marie might fall asleep but they were there to sit and be with her.
I had all this medical community involved but I didn’t realize before they came, what hospice volunteers could do, not just for my wife but what they would do for me. At a very dark time they gave me a listening ear, strength to go on, hope, a compassionate pat on the back and many desperately needed hugs…they brought some light. These women and all the volunteers doing hospice work were so strong. They came into our home to face our fears with us, to witness our tears. Truly…angels here on earth.
Bless you all and thank you for letting me share our story. Thank you so very much.
The story of Darrell and Marie is more than a family story, it is a love story. A love story between husband and wife and a love shared within community. Bruce Peninsula Hospice provides compassionate support to over 100 families in our community every year.
But we can’t do it without you.
To provide caring and compassionate visiting and bereavement support programs, Bruce Peninsula Hospice relies on the generosity of our community to raise more than $100,000 annually to cover operating expenses.
This holiday season please consider Bruce Peninsula Hospice in your gift giving.