August 19

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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.