December 2006

Tree Of Life - A Celebration of Living

Author: Linda Hopkins

For most people, the holiday season is a joyful time, filled with celebrations and social gatherings. But for some, it can be a sad, lonely time. Because the season is associated with family and traditions, holidays can be particularly painful for people who have lost loved ones—recently, or not so recently.

This year, instead of suffering alone, why not choose to celebrate the life of your lost loved one while reclaiming the genuine joy that comes from giving and sharing? Hospice Care of the Lowcountry is providing the opportunity.

Starting Nov. 22 and throughout the month of December, The Mall at Shelter Cove will display the Tree of Life. With your donation of $20, a ribbon bearing the name of the person you wish to honor will be placed on the tree. On Dec. 5, at 5:30 p.m., the public is invited to gather around the tree and join in an uplifting candle-lighting ceremony while enjoying festive holiday carols sung by the barbershop quartet, “Synergy.”

Rebecca Smith, director of development for Hospice Care of the Lowcountry, emphasized that the gathering is not intended to be a morbid or sad event. This is your opportunity not only to honor a friend or loved one, but to make a difference in the lives of others who are facing terminal illnesses or grieving a loss, she explained. “The point is bringing people together and letting them know they are not alone.”

What is hospice?
The greatest misconception people have about hospice is that it is only for cancer patients or that it means giving up, according to Smith. “Hospice is about helping people live as fully as possible,” she said, adding that many seek services too late to enjoy the maximum benefits. “Hospice care is a way to enjoy your life until the last moment. Being born is a beautiful thing, and dying should be also,” she continued.

Hospice does not hasten or postpone death, and the patient decides on the desired extent of pain control, Smith explained. The program employs a holistic approach that includes physical, emotional and spiritual care for the patient and the entire family, all coordinated by a team of professionals, including the patient’s primary care physician, registered nurses, certified nursing assistants, other healthcare specialists, social workers, spiritual counselors and a certified chaplain, along with more than 150 trained volunteers.

All patients are accepted, regardless of their ability to pay. Services are provided in the home of the patient (house, apartment, assisted-living facility or nursing home), allowing the person to continue living in familiar surroundings with family close at hand.

In the near future, Hospice Care of the Lowcountry will be launching a capital campaign to build a hospice house to accommodate patients whose conditions require round-the-clock monitoring or whose care can no longer be managed at home. The plan is to construct a 15-bed, state-of-the-art, fully staffed facility. “It won’t be cold and sterile like a hospital. It will be a home away from home for patients and their families,” Smith said.

In February, Hospice Care of the Lowcountry will celebrate 25 years of service in Beaufort and Jasper counties. The agency is an independent, community-based, non-profit organization. According to Smith, all event proceeds and donations directly benefit area patients and families. “Every gift helps, even if it’s just a dollar,” she said.

Hospice of the Lowcountry

  • 689-4161*

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