Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of September 4, 2006
Red Deer Hospice provides solace, care
Tranquil facility opens its doors to all faiths
By HELEN RUSSELL
"Please let me die here."
- Fr. Gary Lee
An atmosphere of peace and calm permeates the building. A large two-sided stone fireplace adds to the home-like atmosphere. And a dining area for family meals on one side and a reading/sharing area with comfy furniture on the other add to the serenity.
Ten beautifully appointed rooms offer solace to residents and family alike. And the dignity and uniqueness of the individual is valued and nurtured within these walls.
The hospice warmly welcomes and facilitates the spiritual care of all its residents. It has a gorgeous circular chapel with doors that are always open. Catholics who live here benefit from pastoral care from St. Mary's Parish. Priests and laity minister to these residents as needed and requested.
The hospice's desire to bring life to its residents until their death is readily demonstrated in how it treated an elderly cowboy. On his birthday just before his death, an informal hoedown was held in his honour. In his youth, "Tex" was a real cowboy and country songwriter.
He dictated his final cowboy song to me as he relaxed in front of the fireplace in his wheelchair.
The words of the song were read by a lifelong friend at Tex's memorial service held in the small chapel at the hospice.
In another instance, the Armitage family of Sacred Heart Parish was supported through their time of need with frequent reception of the Eucharist, Anointing and Viaticum for Glen. His wife Helen said she had no idea such a place existed.
Others have likened the care they received to that coming from angels. That image is particularly apt since when a resident dies, a glass angel with their name is mounted on the window in the chapel.
Anyone who wishes may write in a book of remembrance.
Of late, the hospice has also offered bereavement support to the community, free of charge, through trained, compassionate and caring volunteers.
There has been positive feedback regarding these support groups that run over an eight-week period, two hours per week.
Six to 10 bereaved people are able to learn together, to receive and offer support and find success in coping with their grief.
(Helen Russell is a retired registered nurse, hospice volunteer and member of St. Mary's Pastoral Care Team.)
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