“Why is it that in our society we believe our first breath is so much more important than our last? I think we have it backwards.” These were the words spoken by Audrey Parker as she accepted her honouree award at Hospice Halifax’s Hats Off event in 2017.
Her bright personality radiated as she spoke at the event. She was dressed in all black, her outfit coordinated head-to-toe, from her iconic black rimmed glasses to her thigh-high boots. About two years before, she had been diagnosed with stage four breast cancer. She was making the most of the time ahead of her.
It’s bitter-sweet remembering that moment. Today, November 1, 2018, we say goodbye to the beloved Audrey Parker. She chose medical assistance in dying to relieve the physical discomfort and pain she had been experiencing from her terminal illness.
Here at Hospice Halifax, we have a special place in our hearts for Audrey. Audrey was a proud supporter of Hospice Halifax and attended many of our events over the years: Hats Off, Feeling the Love Dinner and Dance Party, and Hike for Hospice. More importantly, she was an advocate for dying well. She believed that everyone deserved a “caring and compassionate” environment in which to take their last breath. That’s why she believed the new hospice residence is vital for Nova Scotia. She spoke loud-and-proud about her love for hospice, inspiring many to follow suit.
Audrey’s memory will remain a part of Hospice Halifax and in the hospice residence.
She has hand picked the decor for 10 patient suites in the residence, following a complementary style for each room to make sure they exude warmth and comfort.
She hoped the proceeds from the sales of her book, Dying in Style, will go toward Hospice Halifax, if the book is published. She has also donated some signature jewelry pieces that will make their grand debut after her death at Feeling the Love on February 9, 2019.
We are honoured to have spent time with a person who was dedicated to being compassionate, selfless, and kind. We hope to attribute her name to a future social enterprise project, in keeping with Audrey’s sense of style and energy.
We thank Audrey for being open and gracious about her experience with dying, sharing her motivation and thoughts with us as an organization, her family and friends, members of the public and local and national journalists. She has brought light for many in a sometimes uncertain experience.
Audrey often commented that she was “excited to see what happens on the other side” and so in this regard, we extend heartfelt wishes and gratitude to her.
Thank you, Audrey.
We also offer kind thoughts and condolences to Audrey’s family and friends.