Tuesday, January 19, 2021

Hospice is home for the holidays

By Joyce Reynolds – Special to the Sydenham Current

Christmas 2018.

The beginning of our family’s journey was unknown to us.

Christmas was wonderful –  my son-in-law cooked Christmas dinner; we took pictures.

As a family, we loved the Christmas season.

For many years my husband, Norris, would dress the part of Santa for our family and other’s enjoyment.

Everything seemed “normal”.

All was well, or so we thought.

In January 2019, our family was shocked into grief when my son-in-law died unexpectedly.

Little did we know, my husband would pass one year later.

When Jacob died, Norris was battling a bout of pneumonia.

Throughout the year, he fought to get better until the fall when he started to decline rapidly.

I cared for Norris at home and had gone into “nurse mode” until he was hospitalized in mid-November.

A month later, he was moved to Chatham-Kent Hospice.

Our family found the Hospice environment to be quiet, kind, supportive and private.

There were none of the barriers we would have experienced at home… it was comforting.

Being able to stay overnight with Norris was such a blessing.

I could wander the halls in the quiet of the night while Norris rested.

It gave me time to be me and collect myself.

Hospice gave us permission to be ourselves.

I no longer had to be “nurse” but could just be his wife.

Norris had the opportunity to dress up as Santa one last time to the enjoyment of our family as well as others at Hospice.

He loved being Santa and this made him, and all of us, very happy. We also enjoyed a
Christmas dinner together as a family.

We had some familiarity with Hospice prior to this because we had known a few people who had called Hospice, home.

After my son-in-law died earlier that year, my daughters also found support in the Art Therapy program offered as part of the Grief and Bereavement services.

It was from this program that the story of the “Christmas Spider” was shared with us.


“There is a story, I’ve been told about a lady, gray
Who cleaned and shined her cottage, awaiting Christmas day,
She dusted dirt and cobwebs, set her tree upon the floor
And seeing several spiders, she shooed them out the door.
Well, the spiders were unhappy to miss out on Christmas day.
They never got to see the tree in all its bright array.
So very late on Christmas Eve they crawled in through a nook
And scurried up and down the tree to take a closer look.
And when the lady, old and gray, awoke to see her tree
Golden cobwebs graced its boughs ‘twas quite a sight to see.
So, place this spider on your tree, this story to recall.
For miracles to happen with all creatures, great and small.”

We found comfort in this story throughout the Christmas Season.

We made over two hundred Christmas spiders, shared them with other families and placed them all around Hospice.

It was our way to give back to others and celebrate the season, even in our grief.

When my husband passed, I experienced sadness beyond belief.

Now it was my turn on this grief journey.

Through the support I received while at Hospice, I was set on a path of grieving that was best for me.

On this journey, I am able to grieve in my way, on my own schedule and have found spending time in nature to be very helpful.

Our family is forever grateful for the care and compassion shown to all of us!

– This story is sponsored content.

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