For some, the holiday season is a time to rejoice in time-honoured traditions and large family gatherings, but for others the season can intensify feelings of loss and sorrow.
Grief and supporting the spiritual journey to healing is one of the roles a local palliative support organization has facilitated in the community for more than 20 years.
In conjunction with Alternatives Funeral and Cremation Services, the Greater Trail Hospice Society is offering an interdenominational service tonight.
“This is a service for those people who are having a tough time this time of year,” said Gwen Ziprick, hospice board member.
“The message is about hope and offering you hope for the holidays,” she continued.
“When everyone around you is bubbly and bright and your spouse or child has just died this can help those suffering get a foothold on the season.”
The annual Blue Christmas Service will be held in the Trail United Church on Wednesday night at 7 p.m. with three community spiritual leaders offering messages of peace and hope for those who may struggle through the upcoming holiday season.
Reverend Michael Hare of the Trail United Church, Reverend Ken Potter from the Trail Sanctuary and Father Jim McHugh from the Holy Trinity Parish, will offer prayer during the service that is open for the community to attend.
“It is a room with people who may all feel the same as you do,” said Ziprick. “It’s a safe place to feel how you are feeling but we want to end on the high note of hope.”
Since the non-profit Greater Trail Hospice program began in 1987 the service has become an integral part of the community dedicated to providing compassionate care for the dying, and support to the family, recently bereaved and professional caregivers.
Connecting a hospice volunteer to a person with a life-limiting illness can involve faith and spirituality.
Ensuring the right match is made during the difficult transition, falls under the realm of the Society’s volunteer coordinator, Peter Stoochnoff.
“It’s a privilege that we are in that person’s space and I say it is very spiritual” explained Stoochnoff. “It’s called a sacred space and sometimes the person may want to review faith at the end of life,” he said.
“But sometimes the person is ready and we are there to sit and be present, an advocate, when they open their eyes.”
Stoochnoff, in his position for one year, recalled a gentleman of the Baptist faith who had a lady from the Catholic community assigned to his bedside.
“Initially, it was a little bit of ‘oh, you are one of those,’” he said.
“But by the end they had a beautiful relationship of sharing pictures and stories and found faith was common and it was just traditions that separated the two.”