Clients & Families

Gratitude

I am so very grateful for the compassionate loving care your nurses, psws and volunteers have shown my wife in her last journey.  Words can hardly convey what I feel for the devotion and love they bring to their “Vocation”.

Kind Regards,  Mr. W.

I’m sure most others have expressed their gratitude for the awesome, tender-hearted care given their family members while staying with you all.  We join our praise with theirs. Words can’t express what you did for our Mom and for us.  Please accept our gratitude and know we will never forget our experience at Campbell House.

Sincerely, the family of Mrs. B

Poems and Personal Stories

                     Mom

      Fades with Light and Laughter

you appear out of the blue, and grab on obsessed
to strike fear and doubt and hopelessness

you do not distinguish between gender or race
you take up a home and find a place

you wreak havoc on the mind, body and soul
and send emotions and families out of control

you have met your match, so relinquish control
to fight, and brave on, and laugh is our goal

You think you are smart and think you have won
ohhh you are in for a fight, the battle has just begun

you have been beaten before, so this won’t be a first
the masses rise up, we know more, we are versed

You have pushed us down, old and young
but we are moving past, erasing the word from our tongue

You are relentless, and ugly but giants do fall
you’ll soon be a whisper, in the distance with no thought at all

you are anxiety
you are anguish
you are a killer without a sound
you are losing
your are fading
the Support is all Around

We are Calm
We are Hopeful
We are Astounded at Her Will to Fight
We are Winning
We are Unrelenting
So Fades the Cancer with Healing Light

Michelle, with love

Today was a Beautiful Day

I was by the lake and contemplated
the serenity and beauty of my feelings and surroundings.
Once more I thought of you. The loss of you.

Surprisingly, you were tucked away in the shadows of the trees….
in the rhythm of the leaves falling on the water’s surface…
amongst the ferns, as soft rays of light filtered
through the trees and penetrated the forest floor.

I am full of joy. I have found you again.
Now you will never leave me,
for I will always find you in the beauty and wonder of the world.

Author Unknown

The Volunteer

There are few situations in our lives when we are more vulnerable and intimate than dying. To be welcomed into be a part of this last stage of life is an honor and a privilege. What I have found is that people want to be heard and comforted. When my last client was in the hospital she had periods of being unconscious and times of being lucid. For me I wanted her to wake up to someone she knew. I knew that it would be scary waking up in pain and in the hospital. Being alone would not be good. Some of her family had busy lives, jobs, children, one lived so far out of town they couldn’t always get in to see her. It was a comfort to them to know that someone was with their mum when they couldn’t be there. Little things like getting her a drink or fixing her pillows; asking the nurses for more pain meds, just sitting holding her hand, listening to her when she was anxious and worrying about her family, was something I could do. It was just good to be an ear she could rely on to keep her trust. It was nice to be a consistent part of the team right through to the funeral. It really is a special place that we volunteers have in this life drama and one that I wouldn’t trade.

Nanci Harvey

Letter #1

My name is Adrian and I have heart disease. I have been married for 27 years, my husband was an archeologist — he just died 2 years ago. Lorraine was there for me when he died. I want Hospice to have this bit of wisdom he wrote out for me just months before he died.

Hold onto what is good even if it is a handful of earth
Hold onto what you believe even if it is a tree which stands by itself
Hold onto what you must do, even if it is a long way from here
Hold on to life, even when it is easier letting go
Hold onto my hand, even when I have gone away from you.

It is a Pueblo Indian verse. All tattered and torn, my daughter will keep it safe when I pass away. I want Hospice to know that children’s literature is often where to go when seeking wisdom and counsel:

If ever there is tomorrow when we’re not together…. there is something you must always remember.

You are braver than you believe Stronger than you seem and smarter than you think. But the most important thing is — Ever if we’re apart, I’ll always be with you.
— Winnie the Pooh

That is what I hope my children remember.
Adrian – died Feb 2010

Letter #2

This has to be one of the hardest exercises I’ve ever done. I don’t know whether to make you laugh or cry about what is going on inside and outside my body.

I know more about what’s going on inside my body than my doctor — thank you to Angela, Sharon and the health team. Support and friendship is rare — thank you Doreen. For helping us as a family — thank you Lorraine.

To everyone at Hospice:
Going to the cottage with Doreen was just great, even though I got sick and had to come home early.

Having stuff done around the house makes me feel better. Being there for me when I feel down lifts my spirits. Bringing spirits also helped.

Not being afraid to talk to my girls about what was coming helped me deal. Not a lot of wisdom. But its what I feel. I will look for you all in the great beyond.

Deb — died November 09

Letter #3

To Hospice — I’ve never been asked to write before. Put my thoughts to paper about me — my life.

I feel too young to be dying of cancer. I’m 76 years old and I have grand kids. But I feel like I’m 20… in my mind.

The difference in the way my body acted, my husband acted, the kids acted — is due to the damn cancer. If I was still 20, I’d fight harder. I want to fight until I see Christmas I hate this disease. I hate that I’ve been asked to put pen to paper and write about this disease. I wish I could crumple up this cancer like I could this piece of paper.

Sharon read me a paragraph and I can’t remember some of those questions. Who would I love? And what wish would I fulfill?

I love my family and their dear faces and quirks. I wish I could live to see my grandchildren marry. I wish I could tell my husband to stop buzzing around me with his worry. If I have to die, I want to die at home. I want to thank Karen for helping me put together pictures in albums. It makes it easier to let go, having all my pictures in place.

Elizabeth — died October 2009

Letter #4

To Hospice,
Sharon was barking up the wrong tree when she asked me to contribute words of wisdom to your meeting.

I’m not a man of wisdom.
I’m not an educated man.
I’m not a generous man — and I won’t be remembered for anything.
I do know what I am:

I’m the guy who can’t rest because I’m worried about dying.
I’ve been told that the cancer is lethal and that I will die.
And when the doc was telling me all’s I could think about was – nothing.

I think about nothing at all — a lot of the time. Its easier than thinking about what is to come. Have patience for people like me.

Gary — died Jan 2010

Top 5 Regrets – By Bronnie Ware

For many years I worked in palliative care. My patients were those who had gone home to die. Some incredibly special times were shared. I was with them for the last three to twelve weeks of their lives.

People grow a lot when they are faced with their own mortality. I learned never to underestimate someone’s capacity for growth. Some changes were phenomenal. Each experienced a variety of emotions, as expected, denial, fear, anger, remorse, more denial and eventually acceptance. Every single patient found their peace before they departed though, every one of them.

When questioned about any regrets they had or anything they would do differently, common themes surfaced again and again. Here are the most common five:

1. I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me

This was the most common regret of all. When people realize that their life is almost over and look back clearly on it, it is easy to see how many dreams have gone unfulfilled. Most people have had not honored even a half of their dreams and had to die knowing that it was due to choices they had made, or not made.

It is very important to try and honor at least some of your dreams along the way. From the moment that you lose your health, it is too late. Health brings a freedom very few realize, until they no longer have it.

2. I wish I didn’t work so hard

This came from every male patient that I nursed. They missed their children’s youth and their partner’s companionship. Women also spoke of this regret. But as most were from an older generation, many of the female patients had not been breadwinners. All of the men I nursed deeply regretted spending so much of their lives on the treadmill of a work existence.

By simplifying your lifestyle and making conscious choices along the way, it is possible to not need the income that you think you do. And by creating more space in your life, you become happier and more open to new opportunities, ones more suited to your new lifestyle.

3. I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings

Many people suppressed their feelings in order to keep peace with others. As a result, they settled for a mediocre existence and never became who they were truly capable of becoming. Many developed illnesses relating to the bitterness and resentment they carried as a result.

We cannot control the reactions of others. However, although people may initially react when you change the way you are by speaking honestly, in the end it raises the relationship to a whole new and healthier level. Either that or it releases the unhealthy relationship from your life. Either way, you win.

4. I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends

Often they would not truly realize the full benefits of old friends until their dying weeks and it was not always possible to track them down. Many had become so caught up in their own lives that they had let golden friendships slip by over the years. There were many deep regrets about not giving friendships the time and effort that they deserved. Everyone misses their friends when they are dying.

It is common for anyone in a busy lifestyle to let friendships slip. But when you are faced with your approaching death, the physical details of life fall away. People do want to get their financial affairs in order if possible. But it is not money or status that holds the true importance for them. They want to get things in order more for the benefit of those they love. Usually though, they are too ill and weary to ever manage this task. It is all comes down to love and relationships in the end. That is all that remains in the final weeks, love and relationships.

5. I wish that I had let myself be happier

This is a surprisingly common one. Many did not realize until the end that happiness is a choice. They had stayed stuck in old patterns and habits. The so-called ‘comfort’ of familiarity overflowed into their emotions, as well as their physical lives. Fear of change had them pretending to others, and to their selves, that they were content. When deep within, they longed to laugh properly and have silliness in their life again.

When you are on your deathbed, what others think of you is a long way from your mind. How wonderful to be able to let go and smile again, long before you are dying. Life is a choice. It is YOUR life. Choose consciously, choose wisely, choose honestly. Choose happiness.

And This Is How We Grieve (Download)

And this is how we grieve:
It begins with the pianissimo of disbelief
And crescendos into a cacophony
That hurls questions
Toward the heavens where Mercy is mute.

And this is how we grieve:
Incompletely and with little understanding,
Half limping, half crawling, dazed and disoriented,
In a restless ritual around the rim
Of the black hole that was once our soul.

And this is how we grieve:
With anxiety and with whispered doubts
That want Grace to account for
The unyielding darkness, the endless ebony,
That makes us believe we have gone blind or mad

And this is how we grieve:
Not all at once, but intensely and to exhaustion;
Then we heave ourselves, spent and silent,
Into grief’s arms to await
The next anniversary of the calendar or of the heart.

And this is how we grieve.

Janet G. Tharpe, D. Min.

Autumn Psalm of Fearlessness

By Edward Hayes

I am surrounded by a peaceful ebbing,
as creation bows to the mystery of life;
all that grows and lives must give up life,
yet it really does not die.
As plants surrender their life,
bending, brown and wrinkled,
and yellow leaves of trees
float to my lawn like parachute troops,
they do so in a sea of serenity.

I hear no fearful cries from creation,
no screams of terror,
as death daily devours
once-green and growing life.
Peaceful and calm is autumn’s swan song,
for she understands
that hidden in winter’s death-grip
is spring’s openhanded,
full-brimmed breath of life.

It is not a death rattle that sounds over
fields and backyard fences;
rather I hear a lullaby
softly swaying upon the autumn wind.
Sleep in peace, all that lives;
slumber secure, all that is dying,
for in every fall there is the rise
whose sister’s name is spring.

My Hospice Experience

By Coryll Harwood

Shortly after moving to small town Ontario, I was asked to sit with a gentleman in the nursing home while his family went to Church Christmas Sunday. The family did not expect him to see out the week end. I was asked to stay from nine until noon.

The nurse at reception escorted me to the room and with a wave of the hand towards the bed, departed. The gent was comatose and lay quietly, his face turned toward the door. Looking at him, I caught my breath. It could have been my father lying there, the resemblance was so strong. My dad had been dead for 21 years!

I went in, pulled a chair up beside the bed, took his hand and quietly talked to him, to reassure him of my presence. He seemed peaceful. I stroked his wrist and focused on him, surprised that the only thing I knew was his name. Dozens of questions tumbled through my mind. Where did he live? Was he a farmer like my father had been? Was his wife still living? Who was his family? What had he done all his life?

After an hour, I explained to him that I was going to go around to the other side of the bed. My reason was simple; I wanted to see his profile. My dad had a hooked Anglo-Saxon nose and I wondered if this gentleman had the same nose shape. He didn’t. I couldn’t help but smile. Then I noticed how much his hands were moving, as if searching for something. He seemed suddenly agitated. I returned to my chair, took his hand again and talked quietly. He settled down again immediately.

I hummed hymns to him and Christmas carols. Another hour passed. Getting bored, I picked up a pocket-book sized magazine I had brought in. With one hand in his, I began to read, holding the magazine in my other hand. In short order, he seemed to get agitated again! Setting the book down, I focused back to him and marveled that there seemed to be some form of miraculous communication going on between us. Not a word was spoken but he seemed to know when my mind wandered off in some other direction. I thought about this phenomenon for a quarter of an hour, mesmerized and thrilled with the prospect. I had to test this theory again. I picked up the book, still clutching his hand and began to read. Within a minute, his hands searched and agitation resumed.

I have never forgotten that exchange. I hated to leave and stayed until well after 12:30 pm. The man never opened his eyes. He died at 5 pm that afternoon but he left me with a legacy that I truly cherish. I love the idea that as spiritual beings, we have the ability to communicate at some profound level that transcends our intellectual knowledge. I never think of this gentleman without a warm smile spreading across my face.

– Coryll Harwood

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