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Auction highlights need for grief services in North Okanagan

Hospice Society marks National Grief and Bereavement Day Nov. 16
The North Okanagan Hospice Society is raising funds with an online silent auction of this Passage Through painting and book, Leah’s Gift. (Destanne Norris)

Anyone who has lost a loved one knows the pain of grief, regardless if it’s a recent or a decades-old loss.

In recognition of National Grief and Bereavement Day on Nov. 16, awareness is being raised on the need for adequate grief support services in the community.

North Okanagan Hospice Society, which offers end-of-life care and bereavement services, is fundraising to provide further services.

“It is sad that all I hear these days is about the tsunami of grief that our community is experiencing,” hospice executive director Lisa Matthews said. “It is not only the loss of life of loved ones due to COVID, but loss of social interactions, community, physical closeness, freedom, etc. It is really sad.”

Hospice is holding an online silent auction for a poignant piece of art and a book.

“Art has a way of uniquely expressing without words people’s individual experience of grief and loss,” Matthews said.

After losing a child to drowning more than 25 years ago, the pain of grief still surfaces for artist Destanne Norris.

She revisited the immense impact that loss had on her life and that of her family when she recently learned of a friend losing her own baby at birth.

Devastated for the family, Norris went to her studio to paint.

“My heart and mind was filled with thoughts of grief and what she was going through as I began to make a new painting from my imagination,” Norris said.

For three days she worked on the painting, creating scenes of clouds, land and water which were scrubbed away as she found herself dissatisfied. As she let go, a flurry of activity came to light and the painting, titled Passage Through, was complete.

“Many edges are blurred, and the primarily tender-blue colour palette is soft and subtle. Paint flows in areas, allowed to drip like tears,” Norris said of the 30- by 36-inch piece now up for bid at

The painting is accompanied by the illustrative book, Leah’s Gift, by Norris and Sarah Hope, and is open for bids until 9 p.m. Nov. 30.

“Why do things happen the way they do, why do we lose those we love far too soon, why do we have hearts that can be broken and be healed? Our earthly existence is shrouded in mystery,” Norris said. “Ultimately, as difficult as it is at times, much of it is not ours to know but to live. By living life fullest in the moment — in faith, hope and love — we may find that the gift is in the heart of life.”

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Jennifer Smith

About the Author: Jennifer Smith

Vernon has always been my home, and I've been working at The Morning Star since 2004.
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