Bruce Peninsula Hospice “It’s Just What We Do”

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Written by 
Christina Mereu,
Bruce Peninsula Hospice Volunteer

It seems many of us have our own story to tell of those snowy, blowy, blistering cold days that closed January. Here is ours. The family involved has encouraged us to share this heartfelt story of our Gateway neighbour.

Heavy snowfall, roads were being closed and the towns of the peninsula were shutting down, but life, and death, go on at Gateway Haven. Being short staffed is stressful at any time but when a resident is at the end of life, additional delicate personal care is required. Bruce Peninsula Hospice received a call from Gateway requesting support for a resident, one of our clients. The resident had been living at Gateway for several years and her family had contacted us a couple of years ago. Since that time she received regular weekly visits — volunteers would read with her, watch programs with her, take her outside and she especially loved to hold your hand. But now her time had come and her son was in the distressing situation of being unable to make the drive from up the Peninsula to be with mom as the roads were closed.

So our volunteer prepared herself for the cold and walked the several blocks to Gateway. She arrived at 11:00 a.m. to the familiar, symbolic white dove that had been placed on the door. The attending staff member shared some details and their gratitude that we were there. The volunteer knew the resident enjoyed classical music and had been very involved with the symphony. For the next several hours, while the storm raged outside, classical music quietly filled the room and a visible calm came to our dying Gateway neighbour. 

The volunteer sat for the afternoon, quiet and respectful, reflective of the talented and generous life lived that was soon to leave us. The volunteer left Gateway in late afternoon with a word to the staff, so very thankful for the honour and privilege to fulfill her own retirement wish to do hospice work. Once home, she made a reassuring call to the son to relay that his mom was resting more comfortably and that the staff were continuing to be very attentive. We learned that later that night our client/neighbour had died.

Living just blocks away, the volunteer was able to get to our client on that stormy day when all the roads were closed, and the family is enormously grateful as are we at Bruce Peninsula Hospice. But as Bruce Peninsula Hospice knows any one of our dedicated and compassionate visiting volunteers ‘would do the same in a heartbeat’. While the storm adds to the power of this story, being present is what we do every day for our neighbours in community.

Bruce Peninsula Hospice provides compassionate, non-medical, visiting hospice and grief and bereavement support by trained volunteers for individuals and their families on the Peninsula and surrounding area. Our volunteer-based organization was founded in 1995 and our services and programs are provided at no cost thanks to the support we receive from individuals and organizations in our community.