Hospice ceremony honors the light left behind by those who have died

BUCKHANNON — A tree lighting ceremony to help honor loved ones who have died was organized by West Virginia Hospice last week at West Virginia Wesleyan College.

Mary McCartney, W.Va. Hospice administrator, said, “We come here today to honor those who have gone on before us and to celebrate the light they were to our lives. Our promise and mission at West Virginia Hospice is to provide comfort and care to hospice patients and their families who have put their trust in us and who we are so very blessed to serve.”

The Hospice Promise Foundation also raises funds for hospice support and the Love Lights program is a fundraiser for the foundation.

“We help needy hospice patients with things like last wishes, with utilities, rent, housing, repairs, food and assistance,” McCartney said.

“In West Virginia at this time, there are no DHHR funds available to help our low-income patients with burial expenses as there was in the past,” she said. “Some of our patients have spent all of their savings, all of their retirement, on their huge medical bills. They find themselves with very limited resources at the end of their life.”

People wishing to donate can earmark their donations for West Virginia Hospice Buckhannon. Checks should be made payable to The Hospice Promise Foundation at 901 Hugh Wallis Rd. South, Lafayette, LA 70508.

Two people whose parents were patients of West Virginia Hospice locally also spoke at the ceremony.

Cara Hewitt, daughter of Debbie Leigh, said the emotional support West Virginia Hospice provided at such a difficult time was important.

“You laughed with us, you cried with us. To this day, I know if I needed it, I could show up at your office and laugh with you and cry with you. I can’t begin to tell you how I would not have survived without you.

“Seven months and four days is how long we had my mom from diagnosis to walking the golden streets. You guys were phenomenal.”

Leigh was honored at last year’s ceremony and this year, Stephanie Lane with West Virginia Hospice, presented a certificate of honor to Michelle Riffle, daughter of Arminta Baldwin.

Riffle said, “I’m just so grateful for the support and care that all the staff provided to mom and to our family as well. You provided love, compassion and impeccable care. I appreciate how each aide and nurse included me in the plans for her and were so kind to my 7-year-old daughter and allowed her to help, answer her questions and just listen to her talk.

“During this difficult time, you guys provided support to our family to help us understand, cope and transition as smoothly as possible. I appreciate that. Thank you for being a part of our family.”

Choir members from First United Methodist Church provided music during the ceremony.

A tree will remain lit until Dec. 31 in Wesley Chapel.

Lane said the ceremony is open to anyone and people in the community are welcome to attend.

“Wesleyan has been gracious enough to allow us to use the facility,” she said.

West Virginia Hospice also offers a bereavement group for cookies and conversation the third Thursday of the month from 10 to 11 a.m. at the West Virginia Hospice.

The group is open to the community as well as the hospice family. Call 304-473-6800 for questions.

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