Photo: Betsy Kline

Photo: Betsy Kline

Column: Life is meant to be celebrated, a Christmas reflection

Suzanne Lehbauer, executive director of the Castlegar Hospice Society gives some good advice

Submitted by Suzanne Lehbauer, Castlegar Hospice Society

The holidays can be stressful at the best of times, but throw in a pandemic and not being able to see family or carry on traditions and it’s overwhelming. How can we find any joy?

I am often asked how I can possibly work in hospice, especially during the holidays, and be surrounded by death and sadness. While it’s true that this holiday season may be the last one that families may have with a loved one, to say that it is always sad is a mistake. The purpose of hospice care is not only to care for the dying person but also to support those who are around them. But what so many people fail to realize though, is that hospice is an opportunity for many to truly live. What, you say, aren’t we already living? Just because you are alive doesn’t mean you are truly living. Working in hospice has given me the privilege of seeing clients and their families live their lives to the fullest in a matter of days, healing relationships, saying I love you, telling stories and laughing. I have learned that life, no matter how trying, is meant to be celebrated as often as possible. What if we try to live like that all the time?

This year allows us time to pause, reflect and seize the opportunity to treasure all of our blessings, grieve our losses and truly reconnect with others. Please be aware of those who are silently suffering in grief and reach out however you can. Although we may not be able to be there in person to offer a shoulder to cry on or a hand to hold, we can use video technology or actually use our phone to call in person.

Celebrate the relationships in your life, old and new; become more mindful of the precious gift of life that we all share. My wish for you is that you get your heart’s true desire, maybe it won’t be this year — but never stop trying.

As this most challenging year comes to an end, may our hearts be full with hope that inspires and guides us into a new year filled with compassion.

On behalf of the incredible team that I am blessed to have surround me at Castlegar Hospice and from my heart to yours, have a joyous and meaningful holiday season, Merry Christmas and a peaceful and prosperous new year.

READ MORE: Kalesnikoff donates $20K to Nelson, Castlegar families in need

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