Black Press file photo

Black Press file photo

Lacombe Palliative Care Society to feature special speaker Oct. 5

Master Storyteller Rick Bergh will be discussing grief during sessions at the LMC

Helping families and patients with end-of-life care, the Lacombe Palliative Care Society was formed back in the mid-1990s, and today oversees two suites at the local hospital.

Board members are gearing up for special educational and inspiring sessions on Oct. 5 at the Lacombe Memorial Centre featuring master storyteller Rick Bergh.

Session one, which runs from 2:30 to 4:30 p.m. is entitled ‘This is Your Brain on Grief’ and the evening session, which starts at 7 p.m. is ‘Making Meaning of Life’s Losses’.

Everyone is welcome to attend, and a free-will offering will be taken. No registration is required.

Bergh has many credentials ranging from working as a narrative therapist and ordained minister to being a best-selling author, speaker and workshop leader.

Organizers say the sessions are an excellent means of increasing the dialogue around grief and death in particular and the Palliative Care Society in general.

Currently, the Society oversees two suites at the local hospital.

“The Palliative Care Society donated the money to buy the beds and all of the furnishings for the rooms,” said Diane Lindquist, the Society’s secretary.

“Alberta Health Services gave us the space to do that. So they are owned by Alberta Health Services, but we keep the furnishings up-to-date. We make sure that it’s the best palliative care that we can offer in that environment,” she said, adding that hospital staff work directly with patients and their families as well.

“We have noticed that everyone who has used those suites has been so appreciative of having that home-like environment,” she added.

“They can have their families there. Often, their quality of life will also improve once they get into the suite, because they are supported medically as well as by their families.”

Edie Biggelaar, past president of the Society, agreed.

Both Biggelaar, who was instrumental in launching the Society originally, and Lindquist are retired nurses, and both worked in the suites with clients directly.

Biggelaar spent much of her career working in palliative care, and has a passion for it.

“It’s really emotional work, but it’s also extremely rewarding,” she said. “You have to make it as comfortable for that client as you can.

“I loved palliative care (nursing) – I loved getting to know the families, and I loved trying to do my best for the patients.”

Lindquist added that, “They feel like part of your own family because you get to know them so well.”

She said that the Society also supports educational opportunities for anybody who is interested in palliative care in the community.

This can range from courses on symptom management to helping the public better understand what hospice care can provide.

She said the Alberta Hospice Palliative Care Society also takes that message on the road each year. “We subsidize people who wish to go to those (sessions),” she said.

Both women agree that discussions about death and dying are, for the most part, avoided in much of modern society.

“We don’t talk about it until we have to talk about it,” said Lindquist. This is where education can help. “You need to be educated on it, and you need to be accepting of the concept of dying. You also need to be able to find hope in that setting,” she said.

Meanwhile, Lindquist said the Society is always looking for new members.

“If anybody has an interest, we would definitely welcome them,” she said. “We also want to thank the community for all of the support that they give us.”

According to the Society’s website, current membership consists of about 20 passionate volunteers.

“Some are from the medical community; others have experienced palliative or hospice care for a loved one and appreciated it so much that they want to ensure other individuals and families have the same positive experience.”

For more about the Oct. 5 sessions, or about the Lacombe Palliative Care Society, visit

You can also find them on Facebook which is an excellent way to keep up-to-date on the Society’s news.

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