He always wished for his mother to be there for his wedding ceremony, but she was nearing the end of her life in Abbotsford Hospice Society’s (AHS) Holmberg House, and was unable to move offsite due to her palliative needs and physical limitations. She would have to miss her son’s wedding – an event that can be incredibly life-giving, particularly in the midst of physical and emotional pain – also robbing the son of the memory of having his mother there on his big day.
These are the types of challenges that families often face when a relative is dying from illness.
Recognizing their emotional needs, Holmberg House was able to fulfill the wish of the son and his family by hosting an intimate wedding ceremony on site in the Serenity Garden. With beautiful flowers in full bloom and a gentle stream running through, the Garden offered the perfect setting for the mother to witness her son’s big day, bringing joy and fulfillment that she and her family would otherwise not have experienced.
“We were honored to host this intimate wedding ceremony in our Serenity Gardens,” says Tina VanRy, Volunteer Coordinator at AHS who helped make arrangements for the ceremony. “It thrilled us to be able to accommodate the wishes of the groom to have his mother witness this special day.”
This is just a glimpse of the impact Holmberg House can have on families in the Abbotsford community.
Situated in the Dave Lede Campus of Care, the Serenity Garden was created to serve as a therapy tool for patients of Matthew’s House, Canuck Place, and Holmberg House, offering a quiet place of respite during what can often be an extremely challenging and emotional time for individuals and families of those who are nearing end of life. The full garden is accessible to people in wheelchairs and hospital beds, allowing patients and family members, no matter the extent of their physical limitations, a place to enjoy beautiful nature and warm sunshine in the open air.
“At Holmberg House, we want to make everyone feel at home,” says Ron Kuehl, Executive Director of AHS. “Whether they are persons in care, family members, or people participating in our programs or support groups, we want to leave families with a legacy of respectful care.”
“When a family member is nearing the end of their life, extremely difficult decisions need to be made. We wanted to help make this challenging time for the family just a little easier in a very real and practical way.“
It is this attention to detail that serves as the driving force behind the work at Holmberg House. The care offered is not just for palliative patients in the ten beds it supports – it is care for the entire family. AHS offers the deepest, richest, most respectful service to people nearing the end of their life and their families through the health care services administered by the medical staff, as well as through numerous grief support programs.
Throughout the year, Holmberg House runs day and weekend camps for children and youth who have experienced the loss of a loved one. Therapeutic sessions are also offered to children, youth, and adults, using music, art, and even horses as a tool for processing grief; and one-to-one companioning and support groups are offered to people of all ages. These numerous levels of grief support and care ensure that no one should be alone in dealing with the loss of a loved one.
For more information on Abbotsford Hospice Society, visit abbotsfordhospice.org.
*Names have been withheld for reasons of privacy