Volunteers help families grieve loss

Death is a part of life, yet it is part of the human experience that so few of us are able to wrap our heads around.

Julia Cundliffe has been volunteering with the Golden Hospice Society since it was founded in the early ‘90s.

Death is a part of life, yet it is part of the human experience that so few of us are able to wrap our heads around.

That is why it is so important, when faced with the death of yourself or a loved one, that there are organizations like the Golden Hospice Society to help you through it.

“There’s such a fear of death, and a level of denial that people go through,” said Julia Cundliffe, one of the founding members of the society. “It’s a tough process for people, and that’s what we try to help them with.”

The society was founded in the early ‘90s, and still has the same strong core of volunteers keeping it going. Some people might think she’s crazy surrounding herself by so much heartache and grief, but Cundliffe says that she gets back just as much as she gives.

“It is such an extremely rewarding experience,” she said. “You feel so good knowing you helped a family through such a difficult time.”

The hospice society’s purpose is to help the patient and the families cope with the difficult time. This could include anything from giving relief to caregivers, sitting with the patient who may or may not be conscious, providing support for the family during the end of life planning, or simply be a sympathetic ear without judgement.

Hospice volunteers can work with a family up to six months before a patent’s passing, or even the last few days.

“We train volunteers right here in Golden, and myself and some of the others have taken courses elsewhere,” said Cundliffe. “Invermere has a wonderful hospice, they’ve been very helpful.”

The volunteers also attend the funeral after the patient passes to show support to the family.

“It can be tough and draining work, but we all get together and talk about our experiences after, see what we could have done differently. It’s a bit of a release for us,” said Cundliffe. “And when you get a thank you or a hug from a family member, it’s all worth it.”

Anyone interested in volunteering with the Golden Hospice Society, or learning more about their services can contact them at goldenhospicehelp@gmail.com.