White Rock South Surrey Hospice Society’s Caroline Whynott speaks with a hospice volunteer.

Hospice doves bring peace of mind

White Rock South Surrey Hospice Society helps keep memories alive

The death of a loved one is a difficult subject to bring up, especially around the holidays.

It can often make people uncomfortable or sad, and many times the subject is pushed aside.

For the White Rock South Surrey Hospice Society, providing a place to talk about death has been a priority for more than two decades. Each holiday season, the hospice puts up a tree in the middle of Semiahmoo Mall, inviting those who have lost someone to put a paper dove as a memorial for their annual Celebrate-A-Life event.

Carole Whynott, a hospice volunteer and chairperson of the event, says it may come as a surprise to see how many people want to remember a loved one around the holidays, whether it’s simply putting a dove up or speaking to the volunteers at the hospice. Whynott often meets people who are unable to bring up the topic for fear of making others unhappy and have no one else to talk to.

“It’s really amazing how many people stop by to tell us their story. We’re there to listen and it just opens the doors,” Whynott said. “It’s OK to talk about the loss of a loved one and we listen.”

The paper doves covering the tree are a way to pay tribute those who have died and to provide some relief to those who are in pain, said Whynott.

Despite the decades that have passed, she still places a paper dove in honour of her daughter, Jackie Michael, who died as a baby. She will also place doves in memory of her cousin, Billy, who committed suicide; her cousin, Joe, who was stabbed to death; and her parents and friends who have passed.

Decorated in glitter, with ribbons to tie to the tree, the doves have been a symbol for the hospice for many years, symbolizing peace. By placing the doves on the tree, Whynott said she hopes it brings peace of mind to those struggling with the loss of a loved one.

She recalls meeting three girls, all cousins who had lost their grandfather, with their mothers trailing behind them. Whynott invited the girls to share their story. The 10-year-old girl, the youngest of the three, spoke about the recent death of their grandfather.

“She said that her papa had been such a good man, and that they all really, really missed him,” Whynott said.

The girls had all scraped and saved $75 each to donate to the hospice in honour of their Papa, in lieu of gifts.

“You could see their moms were crying, it touched them deeply to know that their girls only wanted to remember their grandfather for Christmas,” Whynott said. “That in itself is the beauty of Celebrate-A-Life.”

The doves have become a tradition for many in the community, including hospice volunteer Margaret Rodgers.

In 1958, at the age of 20, Rodgers was diagnosed with bone cancer. Against all odds, she has lived for decades longer than originally expected.

Her early introduction to the subject of death didn’t make her hide from it. Instead, she devoted her life to helping others who had cancer, eventually working with the hospice.

For the last 15 years at the hospice, she has seen many people whom she cared about die, including her husband. Every year, Rodgers would put up a dove in honour of the people she loved and lost. This will be the first year she is unable to because of medical issues, but she encourages others to participate.

“It’s like a vigil,” said Rodgers. “It’s a closing for some, and a way to meet others who are grieving.”

This week, as the Celebrate-A-Life campaign comes to a close, the society gathers all the paper doves and bring them back to the hospice for the Dove Ceremony. The paper doves are burned one-by-one as a final goodbye.

“It closes the gap between life and death and sends the spirits up to the sky,” Whynott said.

The campaign runs until Friday. Anyone can place a dove on the tree, and those who donate $20 or more will be able to take home a wooden dove, hand-painted by the Grade 11 students at Southridge School.

Money raised will go to the hospice for care and services of terminally ill patients, their families and friends.

For more information, visit www.whiterockhospice.org

 

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Survey suggests 83 per cent of Surreyites ‘favour a referendum’ on policing transition

Survey was conducted by Pollara Strategic Insights on behalf of the National Police Federation

Racist graffiti sparks Cloverdale man to renew calls for City to clean up street

Hate message the latest garbage dumped at the end of 176th Street

‘A bag full of garbage every 15 metres’: Surrey industrial area filled with trash

Local workers looking to recruit business, raise funds to help dispose of litter

Brand new Tesla crashes into Surrey store front, mounts gas line

Driver was heading to the Autoplan store, straight off the lot

Surrey RCMP looking for missing 21-year-old

Police say Kenny Tran was last seen at around 1:30 p.m. on Feb. 19

VIDEO: B.C. senior recalls ‘crazy’ wartime decision to grab bear cub from den

Henry Martens – now 96 – says he was lucky to be alive after youthful decision to enter a bear’s den

New Alberta forward joins Vancouver Giants’ ranks

new left-handed 18-year-old is a familiar face to Giants head coach Michael Dyck

Cheapest in B.C.: Penticton gas prices dip below $1 per litre

Two stores in Penticton have gas below a dollar.

Loans or gifts? Judge rules woman must pay B.C. man back $7K

B.C. judge rules that woman must pay back more than $7,000 in advanced funds to man

VIDEO: Outpouring of worldwide support for bullied Australian boy

Australian actor Hugh Jackman said ‘you are stronger than you know, mate’

Mugging with airsoft gun results in Langley school lockdown

Police found the weapon and a stolen phone later

‘A horror show:’ Ex-employee shares experience at problematic Chilliwack seniors’ home

Workers are paid below industry standard at all Retirement Concepts facilities

Forest industry protests northern B.C. caribou protection deal

B.C. Mining Association supports federal-Indigenous plan

Chilliwack physiotherapist charged with sexual assault

Mounties urging other potential victims to make contact

Most Read

l -->