In the Darkest of Nights Shines the Brightest of Stars

I’ve been working at The Bethel Hospice for the past 6 weeks, there is so much to say and it is hard to know where to begin.  I guess I will start from the beginning.  I opened the front door of the Bethel Hospice at 9 am on July 4, I was greeted by the receptionist; a woman with a huge smile and a heart of gold, which was so evident from the minute I met her.  I introduced myself, she knew exactly who I was and welcomed me with open arms and then I was kindly asked to step aside, an “Exit Ceremony” was about to begin.   When a resident passes, the staff and volunteers join the family as they accompany the body out of the building.  Every opportunity to show respect and dignity to a resident during their stay and departure is a priority.  It is a warm and heartfelt moment for everyone involved.

Many people have asked me how I can work at a place where I am surrounded by so much sadness.  Surprisingly, it is a place where there is a lot of smiles and laughter.  Amidst the grief, there are residents and family members that are so relieved to have found this gem, Bethell Hospice, tucked away in the countryside of Inglewood, a place where a dying person and their families can spend what time they have left together. This is a place where absolutely everything a dying person needs or wants is taken care of.  There are birthday parties, anniversaries and even weddings.  Resident’s beds are rolled out to the dining room for High Tea or to listen to their son, daughter or grandchild play the piano.  Beds are taken out to the garden, pets are brought in, anything that can be done for a resident is done.  With that in mind, it would be amiss if I didn’t mention that there are some extremely sad situations.  This week, a woman age 49 died of brain cancer, a reminder of a dear friend and a cousin that passed away far too soon, it is a time you put life into perspective and appreciate what you have.

Lorna Bethell, the founder and “vision” of Bethell Hospice, believed  Bethell House should always be considered a verb and  not a noun. In other words, a place of action. In my short experience with Bethell House, she has achieved just that.  As one volunteer said to me “There are really only two emotions, love and fear, at Bethell Hospice we take away the fear”.

Death is part of “Life”, just as birth is, and it can be equally as beautiful.

So when people ask me the question, how can I work at a hospice?  I ask, “If you could go to work every day and witness tender sweet moments, see the kindness people share during difficult times, if you could meet wonderful volunteers, with big smiles and hearts of gold, that love to be there to serve others, be greeted by nurses and PSWs that hug you when you walk by just because they can, and resident family members that thank you for providing such an amazing place, would you want to work there?  I know I would and I do.

In the darkest of nights, shines the brightest of stars, and I love working amongst the stars.

11 comments

  1. “Death is part of “Life”, just as birth is, and it can be equally as beautiful.” Such a strong and beautiful quote. Bethell Hospice is an amazing institution, and I’m so happy you are now able to help them progress their mission and do even more to their residents. Keep sharing and fostering the happy moments – and learning from the sad ones.

  2. You captured the essence of this wonderful place perfectly. So proud of the contribution that you are making.

  3. Thanks for sharing Deb. Perspective in life is everything and can only be attained through first hand experience. It sounds like you are well on your way. The team in D41 is proud of you and the work you are doing everyday!;-)

  4. You are truly a remarkable person. I have never handled death very well. My grandma died in my arms and I thought that would actually help put death into perspective for me but I think I was just to close to my grandma. You would think her being 98 years old when she died that I would accept it better. My family has had the blessing of hospice taking care of my family members. It wasn’t until then actually using their services that we realized that they are there for the living as well as those that are facing death. Hospice is an amazing organization with nothing short of equally amazing people. Thank you for your blog and taking on such a challenging endeavor. Bless you.

    1. Thank you Jeanette for your kind words.

      It is such a privilege and a gift to be part of the Pulse Partnership Program and to be partnered with the Bethell Hospice.

      I am pleased you enjoyed reading my blog.

      With warmest regards,

      Debbie

  5. What beautiful words Debbie. As a volunteer in the Kitchen of Bethel, for me it is undoubtedly the gratitude in the eyes and hearts of the families that makes it all worth while. And the smells are amazing. Never have I been surrounded by so much love as at Bethel Hospice, and never have I been more proud of the organization that I represent. Thank you for sharing this wonderful blog, it is so nice to hear your thoughts.

  6. I loved reading about your positive experience at the Bethel Hospice. Facilities as this one enriches communities and offers a bridge to those caring for a dying loved one. The Hospice provides a place to normalize death with acceptance and “no fear “as you wrote. If we could all have such a haven when possible to lean on, the transition to the other side would be easier indeed. Deb, you are always a positive person. And I am sure you bring your own light and love to this facility. Blessings abound.

  7. What a wonderful place for those at the end of life and their families. This care facility was obviously set up with a very strong mission. What a wonderful model that I wish could be copied again and again all over the world. I have no doubt that you are adding such a gift to this already nice facility. I know this because after I speak to you, I feel uplifted. You have such a nice disposition and gentle spirit. Please keep sharing- this is inspirational!

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