Hospice service is about living 0
SIRCH hospice manager Marilyn Rydberg, left, stands with volunteer Shirley Holmes at the SIRCH office on County Road 21 near Haliburton on Aug. 29, 2012. Holmes says volunteering for the hospice program has been a life-changing experience. Rydberg is looking for more volunteers. JENN WATT/HALIBURTON ECHO/QMI AGENCY
In the midst of dying, a focus on living can be an unexpected gift.
Contrary to what you might think, hospice services is about life and learning to be present in the moment, manager of the Haliburton program Marilyn Rydberg says.
“It’s about living as fully as you can,” she says.
Rydberg is about to head into another training season for her volunteer team through SIRCH Community Services.
Every fall, new recruits are brought together to learn more about supporting people through terminal illness and loss of family members.
The process is rewarding, providing volunteers with life skills and perspective on an event that happens to us all.
“Everybody in this world thinks they’re going to live forever,” says hospice volunteer Shirley Holmes. “When the doctor says ‘you’re going to die,’ they say, ‘no, that can’t happen to me.’”
A great deal of emotional, and often spiritual, work has to be done by the individual and his family and loved ones in that time.
Hospice workers are there to help along the way.
One of Holmes’s most recent clients was told by the doctor he had two weeks to live.
He was so devastated by the news he sat in his house waiting to die.
“He didn’t want to move,” Holmes recalls.
The two weeks came and went and he was still alive.
The man ended up living 16 months and in that time, he and his hospice worker became good friends.
Holmes would research current events to chat about on her visits and in turn, her client would think up his own conversation pieces.
“He was ready to talk each week,” she says.
When the man eventually passed away, Holmes had to take some time off from volunteering; the relationship she had formed over their months together had become strong and fulfilling.
But the grief she experienced doesn’t deter the volunteer from continuing on – she took advantage of SIRCH’s resources on bereavement, took some time off and is ready to help out once more.
“Our main purpose is to enjoy and have fun,” she says.
While the clients are ill, that doesn’t mean they can’t be happy in the time they have left.
“It’s very, very satisfying to see the [disposition of the] client improve as you’re visiting,” Holmes says.
Hospice volunteers don’t only care for those dying at home, but also the bereaved widows. In addition, a core group of them spend time with patients at Haliburton hospital’s palliative care suite.
This additional service, opened in the last year at the site, has increased demand for hospice workers, Rydberg says.
She has 50 volunteers now and hopes for 20 more at this fall’s training session.
In particular, people from the Wilberforce and Tory Hill areas are needed.
The most intensive part of volunteering for hospice is the training portion, which is 35 hours starting in October.
Call SIRCH Community Services for more information or to sign up at 705-457-1742.