Last week I spoke at a fundraising event for the Mary Potter Hospice in Wellington. Wow, what a great organisation. They are one of the many superhero organisations in our community who perform miracles every day. They’re full of inspiring people, yet often go unnoticed until we ourselves need them.

Palliative care is an extremely challenging job. To me it takes a very special kind of person to work in these roles. Not only are they doing their upmost to make patients comfortable, ensuring their final stage of life is special; they work with families during a time that for many is an unbearable thing to go through.

But we must remember that this final chapter doesn’t define who we are; rather, our legacy is built upon the collection of stories that we’ve been a part of throughout our entire lives. I said during my speech at the event that we must appreciate each of our journeys, and began with a quote.

“We cannot know where we’re going if we don’t know where we’ve come from”, Owens (1899-1979).

In First Crossings we couldn’t have recreated the pioneering travels without the stories being recorded in the first place. The generations before us achieved amazing things. Unfortunately it is often at the times of ill health that we ask ourselves “do I really know the journey of those close to me?”.

Listening to the stories of our loved ones not only gives us a sense of who we are, it provides quality time where we really get to understand and appreciate our nearest and dearest.

Mary Potter Hospice itself is on a journey. New Zealand’s demographics are changing. As the baby boomers head towards retirement age, there is more requiring the organisations resources. There is a big myth around hospices – many view it as the place where people go to die. This is so not the case.

The New Zealand Hospice philosophy extends beyond the physical needs of a person to their emotional, social and spiritual needs and those of their family. While most hospice services have inpatient facilities a majority of people are cared for at home in the community. Their goal is to help people make the most of their lives; to live every moment in whatever way is important to them.

Many of you reading this will have first hand experience with a lost loved one. For those that haven’t I encourage you to spend time with family and loved ones, to listen to their stories (and possibly record them), and appreciate how your own life has been built upon the experiences they’ve had during their own lives.

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