Hospice hosts Celebration of Life event

<I>GWEN BRAKE photo</I><BR>Sallie McKay created a remembrance space devoted to her late husband. Glen McKay died on Nov. 1, 2002.

For what is it to die,

But to stand in the sun and melt into the wind?

And when the Earth has claimed our limbs,

Then we shall truly dance.

-Kahlil Gibran

KLIPSAN BEACH - Harbors Home Health and Hospice, a non-profit organization dedicated to helping families make life and death transitions, will host their annual Celebration of Life event to be held at the Peninsula Senior Center on Sunday, May 22, from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. Everyone is invited to attend this free event.

"Members of the hospice team will be on hand to offer comfort to families who have lost a loved one. By sharing the joy of the lives of those who have passed, we begin to heal," said Gwen Brake, Hospice Volunteer and Event Organizer.

"Everyone who attends this special event will find a unique opportunity to express their love," Brake said. "Friends and family members can share stories, create a personal altar space dedicated to their loved ones, or experience quiet moments of guided meditation and fellowship."

After experiencing a personal loss, Brake joined the hospice volunteer team. She believes it is important to build public awareness of the hospice program available to peninsula residents. When a person diagnosed with a terminal illness is referred to hospice, the care and comfort of the patient and the support of the family become the loving work of a tireless hospice team. "It is one of the greatest gifts a family can have," said Brake.

The May 22 event is modeled somewhat after the "Day of the Dead," a celebration when the dead are believed to "return home" and visit loved ones, feast on favorite foods, and listen to favorite music. Candles light their journey home.

Participants of the May 22 Celebration of Life event are welcome to bring items that remind them of their loved ones and to create a temporary remembrance space. Table spaces may be decorated with the favorite foods of the departed, or seasonal fruits, candles, personal objects, images of saints, crosses, flowers, water, or other items.

"There is no specific way to create an altar space for a loved one," says Brake. "A photo is important, but any item will do. The key is to honor their memory and celebrate their life."

Dean Mead, hospice chaplain, will facilitate this non-denominational event. Inspirational music will be played by Suzanne Leonard, violinist, and Barbara Poulshack, pianist. Hospice staff and volunteers will be on hand to provide fellowship and support. Refreshments will be served.

"Together we will light our candles, bow our heads, tell stories, share laughter and tears and celebrate the memories of those who have passed. Together, we will shine a light in the darkness of our sorrow. Please join us for this special event," said Brake.

For more information, contact Gwen Brake at 665-2784 or Estelle Bailey at (360) 532-5454.

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