There are many adjectives that can be used to describe St. Joseph’s Hospice, but I have to say that the word magical is my favourite one. It might seem odd to describe a hospice as a magical place, but I hope that once you read this, you’ll agree with me. A quick Google search of the word magical resulted in the perfect definition: beautiful or delightful in such a way as to seem removed from everyday life. This definition captures the essence of St. Joseph’s Hospice.
I first became involved with St. Joseph’s Hospice in early 2018, after mom’s lung cancer spread and it became incurable. Mom was hospitalized in late April, and never came home. After being in the hospital for a month, we got a call in late May to let us know that a Hospice bed was available, and this is when the magic began.
I often used the term ‘helicopter daughter” to describe myself as mom and I navigated the health care system. I was mom’s advocate and primary caregiver and her illness brought us closer than we had ever been. However, something changed once we arrived at Hospice. I could put my guard down and I was able to be my mom’s daughter once again. Mom and I became roommates as St. Joseph’s Hospice staff looked after her everyday needs. Every day the nursing staff and volunteers excelled in the care they provided and they treated mom with respect and compassion. Knowing that you will soon lose your mother is not easy to accept, but being at Hospice helped me make the best of the worst. Having a private suite allowed our friends and family to visit often and it allowed us to create memories we will cherish forever. Hospice allowed us to experience mom’s illness and death as a community and the staff honoured our culture and values. From the day that mom was admitted to the day that she passed away, St. Joseph’s Hospice honoured her wishes and preserved her dignity.
My story with Hospice doesn’t end with mom’s death. It’s been a year since she passed away and Hospice has been instrumental in my grief journey as I learn to navigate life without her. Having access to bereavement support and resources at Hospice has cultivated my courage and resiliency.
The saddest part of this story is not that mom died, but that there are many individuals and families that will never have access to St. Joseph’s Hospice. Hospice receives 50 percent of its operating funds from the government and they rely on donations to cover the remaining costs. Hospice is a 10 bed facility and every year they are faced with the challenging task to fundraise $1.3 million to continue providing compassionate care, at no cost.
I am submitting this story to the Lerners 90th Anniversary Giveaway in the hopes that this donation can make it possible for others to experience the magic that is St. Joseph’s Hospice.
Learn more about St. Joseph’s Hospice