By Louise Daviduck
Campbell River Hospice Society
I want to tell you a story about what is happening at the Campbell River Hospice Society and in our community right now.
First, I want to share how saddened I am that during this devastating pandemic, most of the stories on social media focus on people attacking each other, complaining about isolation or the inability to go on vacation, parties or restaurants etc.
What I don’t understand is why we aren’t talking more about the real tragedy: the abundant number of sudden deaths that are occurring, leaving behind masses of families and loved ones to deal with their extremely complicated grief? Is it because it’s too devastating, scary and heavy to talk about? What about all the talk of “we are in this together.”?
It makes me wonder, are we becoming desensitized because the media is reporting numbers instead of sharing the faces of those dying of COVID daily?
Here at the Campbell River Hospice Society, we are experiencing a vast increase in the number of people reaching out to us for support due to the many losses and complications around grief. Also contributing to the increased need for support is a large number of suicide and overdoses in B.C. Typically, things slow down during for us during the summer- but this year is undoubtedly an exception.
As the dust settles, all societies that specialize in grief and loss worldwide will become overwhelmed with requests for counselling and other services through this devastating time in history. That is if they aren’t already – because we certainly are.
When I say, “complicated grief,” it means those who are dealing with layers upon layers of loss plus the death of a loved one. Other losses can include their job, income, physical connections and family being near. Some families have experienced the loss of two family members to COVID, to then lose another family member to suicide due to their inability to cope.
We are dealing with a massive amount of death and loss in our community, and we need to start talking about it.
An example of complicated grief is found in this story that I was permitted to share:
“My Dad fell somehow and hit his head on the driveway on March 17th. He broke his neck and most of the bones in his face. He got up came in the house and told my Mom he needed to go to the hospital, my brother drove him. He was transported to a local trauma center from the ER. My Mom and I went to the hospital and found out that it was the first day of no visitors due to Covid. For 17 horrible days, he was there before he died fighting until his heart just quit. He had dementia, and the medication he was getting would get him out of control yelling, they would call my daughter or me to come to control him. We weren’t allowed in unless they called us, usually late at night. My Dad was a war hero and a disabled vet who served for 31 years. We weren’t allowed a funeral, visitation, a memorial service or anything. We had to watch his casket lowered into the ground from our cars, only 10 people allowed total. An anonymous funeral for a man loved by everyone. Children and dogs all flocked to him. He would crawl on the floor, playing cars and trucks with the babies making vroom sounds. People always knew him and stopped to talk when he walked with his best friend, his black lab Bocce. I handled everything for my Mom with the VA, social security, mortuary, etc…. Now, 3 months later, I’m falling apart. I just can’t seem to function, my eyes won’t stop leaking. I miss him so much, my heart is broken.” – Beth
Here at the Campbell River Hospice Society, we are receiving a larger volume of requests for support than we have ever experienced. Without the ability to fundraise and provide face to face support, we are doing the best we can to meet everyone’s needs. Our society expects the need for service to continue to climb quickly. In order to meet the demand, we have to find added financial support to hire more counsellors. I want to encourage you to make a donation, shop at our Second To None Thrift Store or consider making a substantial gift or bequest to our society to help us through these unprecedented times.
So now that you have had a small glimpse into our local hospice, let’s try even harder to have more compassion for those who are dying and grieving instead of just the numbers. Let’s reach out even more to our neighbours to see if they are ok. We don’t know who they may be losing or who they have lost.