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near to my heart: woodland hospice

February 23, 2010

The last week of February is upon us, which brings us to the final installment of this month’s Near To My Heart series.  Woodland Hospice is different from the previous three organizations as it is the only one I’ve not participated or served in some aspect.  And It is rather fitting that I share this organization with you at this time since it will be seven years next week when I came to appreciate the service and care offered by Woodland Hospice.

My first experience with Hospice is a faded memory of twenty-some-odd years ago when my beloved uncle was dying of brain cancer.  It was a difficult time for all of us.  My eight-year-old self may not have been fully aware of everything that was happening around me, but I was aware of at least that.  I also vaguely remember hearing about Hospice and the care and support they provided not only my uncle but my grandparents and the entire family.  After Uncle Jeff passed away, my siblings and I received grief counseling from a local Hospice program.

I continued to hear about Hospice for many years.  My grandparents had been so impressed by the care given my uncle that they decided to become volunteers.  Their grieving tears cultivated ten years of supporting other families in similar situations, which they were honored for in 1999.

In March of 2002, my grandmother was diagnosed with peritoneal cancer.  She fought a good fight, and a year later we found ourselves in need of Hospice once more.  Of course they had been there all along, supporting Grandma and Grandpa throughout their journey as good friends do.  When the time came, the outpouring of love was immense, as the director of Woodland Hospice, Deanna, came to consult with my grandparents as to specific needs.  To the nurses, volunteers and staff of Woodland Hospice, Gram was one of their own, and they all offered their services, each of them hoping for the honor of serving a woman they had come to love and respect.  

They continued supporting our family after Grandma passed as they turned their attention to Grandpa’s well being.  He was still a part of their community of volunteers, even though he had to take some time off. 

Rosario and I went with Grandpa to the remembrance service held by Woodland Hospice that first year and several years after.  I loved seeing the staff and volunteers greet Grandpa with smiles, hugs and genuine concern.  I knew they were able to look out for him since the family lived far away. 

As the years went on, Grandpa’s volunteer duties continue to increase.  He was asked to share some of his twenty-one years worth of experiences at a training session for new volunteers and he recently began taking on new clients. 

Yes, Woodland Hospice is very, very near to my heart.  They aided my family in our most distressing moments, and they continued to be there for my grandpa when those moments were over and years had gone by.  But it is not only my family who has benefited from the care provided by Woodland Hospice.  They serve many other families in central Michigan, bringing hope and comfort in the darkest of hours.  I just pray it will many, many more years before my family requires their services once again.

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