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Annual Celebration of Life helps give closure to hospice families and staff

Lexington SC (Devin Ruiz)- Compassionate Care Hospice hosted their Annual Celebration of Life at Saluda Shoals on Sunday, June 11th. Every year, Compassionate Care Hospice invites the families of their late patients to a picnic where they are encouraged to bring photographs of their loved ones and share meaningful stories.

The ceremony was both beautiful and moving. The sun was shining and there were sounds of children playing in the river close by. Some may have said that this was a distraction, but I believe it allowed for each of the families to notice the beauty of life around them during such an emotional event.

Each year Compassionate Care hosts this event and the families are able to share and voice their appreciation for all that the organization has done for them as well as for the loved ones, the patients who are no longer with us.

Compassionate Care Hospice provides care and encouragement not only to its patients, but also to their families during the difficult final stages of a patient’s life. The organization does its best to serve the family by providing them with useful information about hospice care that can make a loved one’s passing easier to understand and live with.

Bereavement Coordinator Carol Rinehart is responsible for dealing with the emotional stresses and spiritual needs of the patients and family members during this period. She plans and host the Annual Celebration.

When I spoke with her about the event on Sunday, I learned that the bereavement team is tasked with recognizing and working with the family of the patients, which also is tremendously affected by the illness. Once the patient passes away, the family and the team remain in close contact for at least a year after the passing.

As bereavement coordinator, Carol Rinehart led the memorial service which allowed an opportunity for the families to reflect on the passing of their loved ones and find closure. The staff, who works closely with each of the patients are also invited to the celebration; as in most cases, they become a part of the family.

Each family brought a photograph of their loved one which was then placed on a table in the center of the platform. The table carried a beautiful bouquet of roses and that provided not only an elegant background for families’ photographs, but also played a role during the ceremony.

After food was served, the families were invited to speak and share memories about their loved ones. It was a time of solace and peaceful recognition of the lives that these men and women once led. After each family member spoke they would take a rose from the vase for remembrance. It was an emotional time for each family, but a beautiful opportunity to come together and remember the fathers, mothers, husbands, wives, and siblings who continue to make impact on their daily lives.

At the end of the ceremony, live butterflies were given out to each of the families to release all at once. A poem was read before the release of the butterflies which capped off what the theme of the event was. As each family released a butterfly, it was done in remembrance of those who have lived and loved and continue to be a part of their families’ lives.

Before the ceremony ended, several family members expressed their gratitude toward the staff of Compassionate Care Hospice for being a positive presence in their family during such difficult times. The Annual Celebration of Life was a beautiful and extremely important event, not only for the families, but the staff of Compassionate Care, to come together as a community and honor the memories of those lost.

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