Shock … Scared … In a fog.

These are the first words that come to mind when I think back to when mom, Bea, was diagnosed with stage four ovarian cancer. She declined treatment and instead requested to have quality time with her loved ones during her remaining days. I didn’t know what to expect with her illness, her end-of-life journey, or how to fulfill her wishes. But what I did know was that mom needed 24/7 care.

We discussed moving her in with us, but she worried about being a burden. That was one thing she did not want: to be a burden.

It was then that we heard about Hospice Halifax.

At the time, I did not know the difference between Hospice and Palliative Care. I had assumed they were the same thing but I was wrong.

I was expecting a hospital setting when the time came for mom to move in — but I walked in, and it was nothing like that. Instead, it felt like a spacious and beautiful home. At the time, I had no idea that this was all made possible through community support and donors like you.

From the moment mom settled into her room, it was like she knew that she was in good hands, and she could relax.

Suddenly her energy was back! The Hospice Halifax team picked up on that. They listened to her and made plans for us to enjoy the time we had together. It was the “little” things that they provided that made this process more meaningful.

We were able to go out to the beach — mom’s favourite spot.

Mom spent the night at our house for Halloween — a special night for her and the kids.

My mom always enjoyed having her hair brushed and styled by others. She had made a comment of how long her hair was getting and before I knew it, Hospice Halifax made arrangements for her hair to be cut in the privacy of her room. We ended up making an afternoon of it, topped off with her favourite music playing while I gave her a manicure and pedicure. Maggie, our family dog, even stopped by that afternoon which made mom’s smile all the brighter that day.

And then, near the end, mom came over for a second sleepover. Dad was there. My brother joined via video chat from out West. We laughed, we ate, we enjoyed time together. But then, after midnight, things took a turn for the worse.
That was a terrifying moment in my mom’s end-of-life journey. Knowing I could call Hospice Halifax at any time and someone would always answer and know who I was and how to help made all the difference.

For us, that difference was speaking to me over the phone to help guide me through how to get mom back to Hospice Halifax. When we pulled up to the doors at Hospice Halifax the team was right there and ready for her. A wheelchair was waiting, with the meds she needed in hand. They set up a space in her room for me to spend the rest of the night.

They knew what mom needed, what stage she was in, and they knew what I needed.

They helped us during a really bad time. They make death less horrible — smoothing the rough edges that could have been there.

It’s these moments that I can look back on knowing she continued to have the privacy she wanted, laughter she needed, and the comfort she deserved during the most difficult time in our lives. These would not have been possible without Hospice Halifax.

I actually don’t think we would have had the amount (or quality) of time we shared with mom had she been in the hospital. She wouldn’t have wanted to.

We never had to worry about mom. We were all amazed by the quality of care mom was getting. I can remember dad and my brother asking, “How much is this costing?”

The answer was always nothing.

It was surprising for me to learn that Hospice Halifax is a free service for everyone in our community. The fact that anyone can experience a graceful exit from this world with the kind of dignity and respect they receive at Hospice Halifax is truly a gift. I only wish there was more.

With your gift, you help make sure there is more — that more people like my mom can find respect and compassion right through to the end.

At Hospice Halifax, it feels like you’re waking up amongst another set of family. They cared. And knowing that my mom, Bea, is now known by so many in our community, you feel a little like family too.

Thank you for reading.