Huron Shores Hospice benefits all members of the family | #hospice | #elderly | #seniors
To fully appreciate the significance of a hospice facility in a community, it is best seen through the eyes of the family, friends and patient experiencing an end-of-life journey.
Members of the Battler family have graciously agreed to share their story, with the hope that others will be aware of this important community resource, and continue to support a very necessary service in this community.
Approaching end-of-life is a passage not only for the person who is ill, but for family and friends as well. Marie Wilson, well known and respected as a wife and mother, friend, colleague, councilor and community supporter, was diagnosed with cervical cancer in the fall of 2019. Chemotherapy treatments couldn’t stop the spread of the cancer, and she eventually succumbed to the disease on Oct. 17, 2020.
It was during a doctor’s appointment that the Battler family was first told about Huron Shores Hospice and the services it offered. Marie’s husband Ken said “we never would have thought of that” and as a family they decided Marie would be admitted as she neared the end of her life.
Huron Shores Hospice offers two hospice suites, at no charge, to individuals during their end-of-life journey, providing compassionate, dignified and holistic care in a home-like setting. Family can support their loved one and each other, and remain in the suite 24-hours a day.
When the time came to admit Marie to hospice, Ken said the family couldn’t have asked for a more comfortable environment or better treatment.
“The people are absolutely wonderful, no doubt about it,” he said. “We wanted for nothing and were treated so well. Cathy Herbert (Huron Shores Hospice coordinator) was wonderful.”
Ken compared the suite to a comfortable lodge with all the amenities, and said a hospital room simply couldn’t compare to the comfort and support the suite offered.
Linda Battler, Marie’s sister-in-law and best friend, said that because of COVID restrictions, the number of visitors allowed to sit with Marie when she was in the hospital was very limited. Once she was admitted to Huron Shores Hospice, her family was permitted to stay with Marie while offering each other comfort. Marie “died peacefully with loved ones around her.”
“The Hospice was a much nicer place for the whole family to be together while we waited for the inevitable,” said Linda. “Ken and one of the boys could sleep comfortably and still be with her. There was a tv, comfy chairs, food and even alcohol. It made the unbearable a little less unpleasant.”
“I can’t express enough how kind and compassionate everyone there was and how thankful we were for the hospice room.”
Marie was Mercedes Battler’s aunt and godmother. She said watching her aunt’s health fail was the “hardest death I have ever been through.”
She said having Marie in a hospice suite meant the family could be there as often as they wished, and were able to support Marie and each other during her final hours. It provided comfort for the family in a home-like atmosphere.
“Everyone fears death and fears what happens next, and the hospice eases that,” said Mercedes. “It provides death planning, eases stress and fear of death. Marie passed so peacefully, so it wasn’t as scary.”
Having been able to spend time with Marie before she died has made Mercedes recognize the importance of having access to a hospice and the difference it can make for a family saying goodbye to a loved one.
“I don’t think you could ask for a better way to go,” she said.
The Battler family, Keith, Linda and Mercedes, has continued to generate awareness and spread the word about the benefits of Huron Shores Hospice. Besides its two suites, it also offers free programming and services on topics such as grief recovery sessions, end of life doula sessions, death cafes and end-of-life planning workshops.
Mercedes has used her expertise as a videographer to produce two videos describing Huron Shores Hospice and the services it provides. Keith, a local realtor, and his wife Linda, have committed to donating $250 to the hospice for every home he lists this year. They have already donated $1,500 in the first quarter of 2021.
On May 8, Huron Shores Hospice will host its annual Hike for Hospice, a fundraising event where 100 per cent of funds raised are directed to the operation of the hospice in this community, for local residents.
Held as a virtual event this year, the hike is open to all ages and abilities. Registrants can participate by hiking, walking, biking, canoeing or safely taking part in any activity, on their own or with members of their bubble.
The event will kick off on Facebook Live at 10 a.m. with short speeches and a warm up, allow people time to take part in their activity, then resume at 11:30 a.m. for a cool down and draw for participation prizes.
The pandemic has frustrated fundraising efforts for many charities and not-for-profit groups over the past 13 months, but co-chair Cheryl Cottrill is optimistic the community will continue to be generous and help them reach its $50,000 fundraising goal. Cottrill said the fundraising doesn’t stop, and $225,000 needs to be raised each year to cover the cost of running the two suites.
Residents who wish to support the hospice but can’t take part in the hike are encouraged to make a pledge through the website at https://raceroster.com/events/2021/46431/hike-for-hospice-in-support-of-huron-shores-hospice. Every dollar raised stays in this community.