Diane Lindquist (left) and Marg Linklater are sending out letters and Christmas ornaments to families who have lost a loved one this year. (Alannah Page/Lacombe Express)

Diane Lindquist (left) and Marg Linklater are sending out letters and Christmas ornaments to families who have lost a loved one this year. (Alannah Page/Lacombe Express)

‘We miss the hugs’: Lacombe Palliative Care Society is adapting to COVID-19

The society’s annual Christmas remembrance ceremony will be cancelled this year

The Lacombe Palliative Care Society has been forced to cancel their annual Christmas remembrance ceremony because of COVID-19. The ceremony typically takes place on the first Sunday of December and honours those who have died in the past year.

The service is a chance for families to come together and remember their loved ones and involves a scripture reading, meditation, music, lighting of advent candles and placing of an ornament on the Christmas tree. Due to COVID-19 cases rising the indoor service will not take place.

Diane Lindquist and Marg Linklater are both members of the society and have been involved with the service for many years. They said the Christmas ornament placing is an important tradition that they will miss this year. Normally, families are invited to bring a Christmas ornament that honours their lost loved one to hang on a tree at the Palliative Care Centre. They are given the option to take the ornament home or leave it with the society.

“Lots of families come back to find their ornament year after year,” said Lindquist. “We have tote boxes and tote boxes of beautiful ornaments.”

Instead of the normal ceremony Lindquist and Linklater are collecting a list of addresses for those who have lost a loved one this year, whether they relied on palliative care or not. The society will mail out a letter and a snowflake ornament for families to hang on their own Christmas tree.

“It’s such a difficult time during the Christmas season when you have someone who has died because Christmas is a time of celebration,” said Lindquist.

The society was created 25 years ago by a former nurse along with volunteers said Linklater. Today, it is made up of current and retired healthcare workers along with community volunteers.

There are two palliative care suites at the Lacombe hospital for those who require a comfortable place to spend the last days of their life. The society furnishes and maintains the suites and have also purchased equipment for Home Care to support those wanting to die at home.

The society is asking for families who wish to receive a letter and an ornament to get in touch at 403-782-4554 or 403-782-1887.

This has been a hard year for many but the pair understands how difficult it can be to lose a loved one. They are disappointed the service can’t take place this year but want families who are grieving to know they are not alone.

“We miss the hugs,” said Linklater.