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Grief and the Holidays

At this time of year, enjoying the holidays can feel difficult if you are grieving. You may even feel guilty for being joyful (even if it is fleeting) because joy and grief are often treated as opposite emotions that should not meet. After someone has died, it is important to be able to acknowledge pain and sadness during special occasions – to be able to integrate honouring the person into a time you may have typically enjoyed and looked forward to.

Each year Hospice supports clients and community members to honour the death of someone they are connected, to  by lighting a tree and inviting people to remember by writing a message or the name of the person who died on a paper dove and attaching it to the tree. The template for the dove is available here and you are welcome to print a dove and drop it by Hospice or to print doves for use in your own home over the holidays.

Here are some resources recommended by Hospice staff that you may find helpful at this time:

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Not-for-Profit Excellence Award

At the Greater Peterborough Chamber of Commerce Business Excellence Awards on October 17th, 2018, the Hospice Peterborough team heard our name called as the winner for the Not-for-Profit category. We were honoured to have been nominated alongside the Canadian Canoe Museum and the YWCA Peterborough-Haliburton, and to win takes our breath away.  

Shelley Barrie, President of the Hospice Peterborough Board of Directors, accepted the award for Not-for-Profit Excellence on behalf of Executive Director, Linda Sunderland, saying,

“We are in the middle of a transformation at Hospice Peterborough which will see us expand our services to include 24/7 end-of-life care in our stunning new Care Centre, at the corner of London and Reid streets. I look out in the room tonight and see so many who have invested their time, advice, support expertise, and made significant donations to bring this project to life.”

Thank you to the Chamber of Commerce and our category sponsor, Community Foundation of Greater Peterborough for this privilege. And thank you to our community. Without the support of our donors, sponsors and volunteers, our mission to provide care for those facing life-threatening illness and grief would not be possible.

“Together we are building our community’s hospice – this award is for you!”- Shelley Barrie, President, Board of Directors, Hospice Peterborough

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With Gratitude

Open Window

“Ross”…This was the simple subject line of a message I received late this morning from a colleague. I knew what it would say before I clicked on it.

Ross had died.

I did not really know Ross, but hearing of his death hit me harder than I expected. You see, Ross was the first palliative care client that I met after I started working at Hospice Peterborough. He and his partner generously welcomed me into their home, during one of the most intense and painful times imaginable, to help me begin to understand the client work my colleagues do, and why that work is so important. I am forever grateful.

I had no idea what to expect as we arrived that July day. It was sunny and hot outside, and inside Ross lay on a medical bed in a small makeshift room on the main floor, because stairs were no longer an option. His weakening body was rail thin, but it was his eyes I remember the most. There were moments when they sparkled with mischief, and when he spoke about his death, I understood why my colleague called him a philosopher. Strangely, I find myself smiling at this memory. What a mixed bag of emotions loss brings.

Hearing Ross speak about his pain and his end-of-life wishes was difficult, but I am grateful to have been in the room. His partner sat at the foot of his bed as my colleague checked in with him about how he was feeling (it wasn’t a good day), and about his end-of-life plans. She spoke to me about their life together and shared photos of their travels. Seeing a healthy Ross smile up at me from the photographs in my hands, as his partner began to talk about the details of his funeral nearly brought me to tears. And all the while, from my seat by the window, I watched as my colleague leaned forward to catch Ross’s words of wisdom and his wishes. I have my personal reasons and experiences for believing so strongly in access to palliative and hospice care, but that brief visit to Ross’s home, snapped all the pieces into place for me.

I knew that Ross was going to die when I met him, but what I was grateful to read in my colleague’s email was that he was able to die at home in peaceful surroundings…the way that he wanted to.

Please note that names have been changed to protect privacy.