'Wild' author to speak on grief and gratitude

Community members of all ages gather each year at the Hospice Memorial Garden at Living Memorial Park in Brattleboro to plant flowers in remembrance of loved who have died.

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BRATTLEBORO — Brattleboro Area Hospice (BAH) announced the establishment of the Friends of Cicely Saunders. At the encouragement of several people who have named BAH as a beneficiary in their will, BAH has created a legacy program named after Saunders, who is considered to be the founder of the hospice and palliative care movements.

For over 40 years, BAH has been serving the community by providing caring support for the dying and their family members, and for those who are grieving a loss. They also provide assistance and education to all our community members who are interested in completing their Advance Directive, which specifies preferences and choices for important end-of-life medical and spiritual decisions. Their programs expanded last year to include spiritual care for all clients, as well as volunteers.

Because BAH is one of the few hospices in the country that does not bill clients or third parties for services, utilizing instead a committed roster of dedicated volunteers for whom they provide training, they rely on the generosity of community members to ensure that their programs will continue onward in perpetuity. BAH serves clients long before they become eligible for Medicare hospice services; supports caregivers in their responsibilities; and continues support beyond death, during the grieving process.

Those who join the Friends of Cicely Saunders will be gifting all of Windham County with a generous commitment to a future where the needs of the dying and grieving will be responsibly and sensitively met, entirely free of charge to all. The Friends of Cicely Saunders also occupy a foundational role in the future security of an organization whose grassroots beginnings reflect the values of personal attention, comfort, and assistance at the time when they are most needed.

Over the years, legacy funds have enabled the organization to grow in ways it could not have otherwise dreamed: purchasing the beautiful office building on Canal Street; rebuilding and expanding the Memorial Garden at Living Memorial Park; enabling the establishment of its ACP (Advance Care Planning) program; funding expenses for capital improvements. BAH would not be where it is today without the help of those who named them as a beneficiary in their estate.

One of the Legacy Friends, Muriel Wolf, who has made a bequest to BAH in her will, said, “The clients and families I’ve met over the years offer the most beautiful testimonies of what our care means to them. Hundreds of folks in our community have been trained as volunteers by BAH over the past four decades, and the care they have provided has not only helped their neighbors, it has changed their lives and their perspective of life’s end. When I try to imagine our town without the presence of Brattleboro Area Hospice, I feel bereft. Generosity is one of life’s greatest pleasures, and knowing that my generosity extends outward to those it can benefit, beyond my own life span, is a fabulous feeling.”

Brattleboro Area Hospice invites the community to join Muriel in becoming a Friend and ensuring their legacy. They welcome inquiries and interest as they honor Cicely Saunders for her groundbreaking work in humanizing the experience of dying, as well as teaching us that we can live in comfort until that moment arrives. For more information about the Legacy Society, contact Ellen Smith, Development Director, at 802-257-0775 ext. 109, or ellen.smith@brattleborohospice.org.

Brattleboro Area Hospice provides a broad range of services for living and dying well, focusing on end-of-life, bereavement and advance care planning. Their programs reflect our community’s values of kindness, decency, and dignity. All services free of charge and are available to anyone living in Southeastern Vermont or bordering New Hampshire towns. To learn more or contact staff, call 802-257-0775 or go online to www.brattleborohospice.org.