For two years, Sue Brice’s weekly routine at the Hospice was to help others by volunteering in the Hospice Day Service. Then came a fateful diagnosis and suddenly she herself was a patient, experiencing not just the Day Service but the In-Patient Ward and Hospice in the Home.
Sue said: “It was very strange to be using the Hospice Day Service as a patient after being a volunteer. On my first morning, I found myself instinctively helping others as I always had when volunteering. I had to be reminded by a nurse that I was one of the patients now but it still took me several weeks to adjust.
When I became a patient I was asked what religion, if any, I belonged to. I had answered honestly - none - but pointed out that I had a strong interest in contemporary spirituality. I wasn't sure therefore what kind of support would be available to me, but I needn't have had a moment's concern. I was able to have open, honst and heart-felt discussions about my spiritual journey in life, which I found very helpful.
“I had never been to the Gathering as a volunteer,” she said. “As a non-Christian, I had assumed it would be a religious service. But I chatted with Liza and realised it was not like that at all. In fact, it is a very informal and friendly meeting and there is a lot of laughter. Anyone of any faith or no faith would undoubtedly gain from the Gathering.
“It is certainly spiritual in character and prayers are said although one can simply listen. But there is so much to gain from the uplifting use of music as well as reading scriptures or poems and the lighting of candles is very moving.
“When you know you are coming to the end of your life it is a special time and people have a greater need for spiritual aid and comfort. I found this too in the Mindfulness Meditation groups every week at the Hospice. That is a very relaxing meeting with people going through the same problems as yourself and I found a lot of spport.
“Mindfulness helps you to deal with disturbing thoughts and replace them with a calm centre. When you wake at 3am in pain, this is when your mind can bring morbid thoughts. What I got from the Mindfulness group was the ability to focus on something positive – in my case, I visualise a golden light which helps me to find calm and not give way to anxiety.”
Sue made the point that an uplifting sprituality runs all the way through Hospice in the Weald. “Spirituality for me is anything that uplifts the spirit such as the arts and music work and the complementary therapy,” she said. “The Hospice offers a lot of different aspects of spiritual care. At the end of our lives, most of us would say we want to go with peace of mind. Everything we have talked about in the meetings at the Hospice has helped to achieve this.”
We are grateful to Sue to sharing her story. She died in September 2016.