Celebrating Spiritual Care Week

Hospice palliative care is designed to relieve suffering and help individuals live their remaining time in comfort and with dignity. That includes not only physical symptom management, but supporting the whole person – socially, emotionally, and spiritually. Illness and disease can call many beliefs into question, and stir up thoughts about the meaning of life and death, which can be a source of suffering.

As one of our key support services, our Spiritual Care team honours and helps address these types of thoughts that surround the reality of our mortality, such as:

  • Feelings of hopelessness, loneliness, and isolation
  • Loss of faith
  • Experiencing anger at others or a higher power
  • Questioning the purpose of life and the meaning of suffering
  • Seeking forgiveness

We are fortunate that Spiritual Care Providers Gord Alton and Stephanie Hong are part of our multi-faceted support team, providing specialized care to our residents and their families in both our Houses to help ensure that a resident’s end-of-life process happens more peacefully. Gord and Stephanie also provide spiritual support to palliative clients and their families in our greater Waterloo-Wellington community.

The call to Spiritual Care is unique and meaningful. Asked about what compelled her to the profession, Stephanie comments, “My Buddhist teacher taught me two important lessons. One is, ‘Always think: what can I do for others?’ The other one is, ‘It is better to lose everything than lose compassion.’  Though I may not always be able to bring happiness to everyone, I can provide some comfort and show my support to those who suffer at any stage of their life journey.”

Personal experience helped navigate Gord in the direction of Spiritual Care. “Having walked with my family during the 1990s watching my two younger brothers die from HIV/AIDS, I am very aware of the pain and struggles that individuals and families experience as they face death.  As a pastor, spiritual director, and psychospiritual therapist for most of my professional life, I’ve helped people discover spiritual meaning and healing in the midst of many life trials. When the opportunity arose to bring my skills and experience to the context of palliative and end-of-life care, I saw this as the perfect role. I’ve learned so much from my clients and their families, and have been touched by how much the different aspects of the Divine arise in people’s lives, even in the midst of the most difficult aspect of life, the dying process.”

To learn more about Spiritual Care from Lisaard & Innisfree Hospice, click here.