By Carmen M Woodson-Wray
Reporter/Photographer, The Gary Crusader
The National Hospice Organization defines palliative care as treatment that enhances comfort to individuals facing life-limiting illnesses and their families. Unity Hospice of Northwest Indiana terms it as “Helping you help the ones you love” and in a continuing effort to providing such comfort to the families the team recently held a memorial service for their loved ones.
Hosted by Rachel Collins, Unity’s Chaplain/Bereavement Coordinator, the memorial service is just one of the services the company offers according to the needs of their clients. Collins said, “we usually hold support meetings with individual families at nursing homes, but this was the biggest memorial we’ve held.”
Collins also said she does not consider this as a job because she has a passion for it. She added, “During our memorial services we allow the families to express themselves and celebrate their loved ones.” Unity Hospice was established in 1992 by Bill Klein’s father, the current director. Klein said his father had a passion for the sick. He said, “When you hear hospice, you think of death, but for us hospice means to bring comfort to the family. Our clinicians don’t just get to know the patients’ medical needs, they get to know the families as well.”
The team at Unity consists of nurses who monitor the health and well-being of the clients, hospice aides that provide personal care needs, social workers that provide counseling services, a chaplain for spiritual support and volunteers trained to support the families.
During the memorial service, families took the microphone to share their feelings, memories and stories about their dearly departed. Jason and his father came in remembrance of his mother and wife. He said, “The people at Unity were very helpful.” His father said, “My wife was sick for eight years. I thank Unity for what you did. It was hard, but I appreciate what you did for us.”
Elaine’s son passed in 2012. She and her family shared a poem in his honor composed by his cousins. Chaplain Collins shared the story of Terry and how he wanted to rededicate his life to Christ in the midst of his illness. At the conclusion of the memorial fellowship, all the family members went outside to release butterflies in observance of their loved ones.