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Nora’s Story (Melanie)


This story was written by Melanie Kerr:

When I heard Pat was going to be sharing her experience at Hospice Halifax with you, I knew I had to do the same.

Ever since my mommy, Nora, died at Hospice Halifax I have been meaning to praise and share my gratitude for our experience.

My mommy was a caretaker of all people. When she adopted me, she saved my life. She gave me everything I could possibly want and more. She made sure I was educated, and that I was prepared for life.

As her dementia progressed and we knew our time with her was fleeting, I rushed to Nova Scotia. The moment I walked through her hospital room, I could tell her heart recognized me.

Soon after that it was recommended that we apply for Hospice Halifax. I was terrified. In my mind hospice was a horrible place to be. I imagined a dark and grey space with people lined up to die.

But from the minute I walked through the doors at Hospice Halifax for a tour, I was home. I felt welcomed. The smell, the calmness, the setup — it was all amazing. I ran back to the hospital and told Pat, “we need to do this.”

When we arrived, I was so pleased at the atmosphere of the room. Mommy had her own private space. The staff made sure we knew what we needed to know, and were always available for questions.

I knew my mommy was safe here — we were immediately comfortable, safe, and at home.

From the moment we walked in the doors we were received with supportive, humorous, kind and professional staff. I felt love. The care mommy received was sensitive. They knew how to connect with who she was — she wasn’t a patient, she was a human.

One amazing thing about the hospice is how queer friendly it was. Mommy and Pat didn’t have to deal with any form of rejection or feel any kind of judgement. I met the most amazing people there who supported and understood me in a way I never expected.

Me (Melanie) as a baby with my mom, 
Nora in Colombia

Finding this safety was enormous for us. Every day we felt love — positivity and authenticity showed up from every person we met at Hospice Halifax, regardless of the day. 

There was strength and integrity in every aspect of care. Not only for mommy, but for me too. I knew coming to Hospice Halifax that mom’s needs would be met, but I was surprised that mine were too.

I’ll never forget receiving a massage from a professional volunteer — not realizing how tense I was until I was lying there crying good tears as the massage therapist worked through the tension I was holding on to.

But, far more meaningful than that moment was a moment with my mommy that I will forever hold in my heart…

… She made me climb up in the bed with her, talking nonsense and singing songs. It was lovely. I

have it on video — all dark but you can hear our voices and laughter. As long as she was laughing I was happy.

Our love word was noonie and we had a noonie song: “noonie, nooooonie, nonnieee, nooonie.” In the video I can hear myself sing this to her, in the dark, cuddled in bed together at hospice.

It’s one of the memories I’ll never forget. Hospice Halifax gave me the space and time with my mommy. It was the resort of dying, not a prison cell of death that I had imagined just months earlier.

Sharing my story like this, it feels like after care. To be able to maybe make a difference for others like me and my mommy, is so rewarding. It gives me some peace in my grief.

Thank you for reading my story and sharing in my gratitude for this amazing community that exists at Hospice Halifax.

Hospice Halifax is a compassionate and supportive community of staff, volunteers, and donors dedicated to making dying and living as comfortable and as meaningful as possible at the end of life.  

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