Hello! My name is Colleen.  I volunteer at the Chilliwack Hospice Society as a receptionist and I also volunteer for various events like the Gala, Hoedown, Hike for Hospice and the Tree of Life Celebration at Minter’s store every year.

I became involved with the Hospice Society because my husband passed away from cancer in 2011.   After his death at the Hospice residence, I decided to give back in a meaningful way what we had been so blessed to receive and started volunteering for the Society in 2012.

While my husband was ill, I was in the unusual position of being his wife and primary caregiver and everyday became more of a challenge.  We could never completely admit to ourselves that my husband was really dying. He wasn’t going to get better and we weren’t going to wake up from this nightmare!  Fortunately, we did find some peace while he spent his very last 18 days at the Cascade Hospice Residence in Chilliwack.  With the staff and volunteers’ nurturing, loving and compassionate care, their explanations, kind words and support to transition us from living to dying, we realized that my husband was indeed leaving us.

The amazing thing about Hospice care is that it shifts relationships back to their natural ones.  I was no longer his nurse but his wife again.  Although our two daughters & son were young adults, they were able to be his ‘kids’ again. This was such a relief to all of us but especially for my husband.  During one of his very last evenings, our whole family had dinner together & then enjoyed watching the Canucks play from the comfort of his own private room. It almost felt like home!

For my kids and me, being my husband’s caregiver was truly was an act of love. Would I do this all over again?  I hope I never have to… although I would but only hand in hand with the Chilliwack Hospice Society.  They got us through our darkest days at the end of my husband’s life… and afterwards too as my daughters and I benefited from the Grief Support Step 1 Group.  I continued onwards and took the Hospice Volunteer Training.  Afterwards, I actually co-facilitated the Volunteer Training for a while & the Caregiver Support training too.

We are so grateful that we let Hospice care into our lives….not only to help us cope with the process of death & dying but also to cope with the process of living!