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

South Surrey, White Rock seniors find their groove

Parking-lot line-dancing is helping keep Kent Street Activity Centre members moving during pandemic

‘Family meetup centres’ helping White Rock seniors reconnect with loved ones

Converted shipping container allows face-to-face time while ensuring physical distancing

Surrey seniors call Seniors’ Centre Without Walls, a new-to-B.C. program

‘Crazy coincidence’ saw program connect soon after COVID-19 pandemic hit

Facing changes together: Your community, your journalists

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the world in ways that would have… Continue reading

Surrey pushing the poor out of Whalley, public hearing speakers say

‘There is a war on the poor here in Surrey,’ resident Dave Diewert tells city council

If Trudeau won’t stand up to Trump, how will regular people: Singh

Trudeau did not directly answer a question about Trump’s actions amid protests

VIDEO: Internal investigation into aggressive arrest by Kelowna Mountie

A video allegedly shows a Kelowna Mountie striking a man several times

COVID claims 23rd Langley Lodge patient, making it the deadliest outbreak in B.C.

Coronavirus kills another senior at Langley care home, bringing B.C. total to 166

Family of dead B.C. football star urge changes to mental health policies in hospitals

Uko family disappointed in actions of Regina hospital, hosting public funeral service this weekend

22 new COVID-19 test-positives, one death following days of low case counts in B.C.

Health officials urged British Columbians to ‘stand together while staying apart’

John Horgan says COVID-19 restrictions won’t be eased regionally

B.C. Liberals urge ‘tailored’ response based on infections

Feds get failing grade for lack of action plan on anniversary of MMIWG report

‘Instead of a National Action Plan, we have been left with a Lack-of-Action Plan’

Maple Ridge woman fights WorkSafe BC over police widow’s pension

Dalila Vroom says husband, Const. Rob Vroom, died as a result of PTSD from time with Abbotsford PD

B.C. ranchers, lodge operators say Indigenous land title shuts them out

Tsilhqot’in jurisdiction affects grazing, access to private property

Most Read

l -->