Sharing of food, drink, companionship at the Langley Hospice’s inaugural Plates & Glasses fundraiser Saturday helped raise money for bereavement support. (Special to the Langley Advance)

Through one Langley woman’s grief, came oceans of tears and a desire to help others

A five-course meal with wine, an auction, and a compelling personal tale raised $20,000 for hospice.

Good food and wine served up to a sold out crowd Saturday night translated to more than $20,000 in aid of the Langley Hospice Society.

The inaugural Plates & Glasses fundraising event helped ensure funding for bereavement support for children, teens, adults, and families through the society’s supportive program centre, explained hospice fundraiser Shannon Todd-Booth.

“The event was a huge success,” she proclaimed at the end of the night.

“We’re just thrilled with how the event came together,” she added, noting there were more than 120 guests in attendance at the Fort Langley Community Hall.

In fact, one of the guests emailed her later, saying: “We had a great time. The meal was fantastic. Angie [Quaale] and the Well Seasoned team did a great job. We particularly enjoyed the way the food/wine was served family style, as it made for much more interaction socially with one another at our table. Good job!”

While a decision is not final, Todd-Booth said there have already been talk about repeating this event next spring.

• Click here to see a few more photos from the evening

Among the highlights of the night, volunteer Pat Thebaud shared her hospice journey, moving the crowd with the raw and sincere emotion of her presentation.

Thebaud is now a hospice office volunteer, but she started out as a caregiver to her late husband Don, and became a client with Langley Hospice in 2014.

Her husband was originally diagnosed with cancer in 2009, and when his chemo wasn’t helping anymore they were forced to make some difficult decisions.

Initially, at least, Don was a determined to live out his final days at home. But as his cancer progressed, he was admitted to hospital, and eventually had to look to palliative care at the Langley Hospice residence.

“He reluctantly agreed to try it,” Pat recalled. “What a blessing for us – all his medical needs were looked after, along with regular care and attention from staff and volunteers.”

It was a blessing for Don, who quickly embraced all that was offered. It also alleviated a great deal of pressure for Pat.

“I spent every day and most nights with Don, but I could come and go without worrying – I knew he was in good hands. Family and friends could visit him any time, we always brought his favourite food, and our children watched TV, snuggled up on his bed,” she told the audience.

“We had much to be grateful for as Don’s illness progressed. We made the most of the shared time we had left, just enjoying each other’s company” prior to his passing on Dec. 24, 2014.

“Don died peacefully in his sleep. He left this world as he had always lived: quietly, gently, and with great dignity,” she added.

While hospice was a blessing during Don’s final days, it proved to be so much more for Pat in the weeks and months to come, as her grief consumed her life.

“Nothing could have prepared me for the emotional struggle that was to come; I learned that grief is an unbearable heartache, a journey into the unknown. I cried oceans of tears, unable to function; I lay on my couch covered up with a blanket every day. I felt powerless and out of control. When I went to bed at night, I thought tomorrow would be better, it was never better, there was no peace from it! I wondered if I would every find peace. Then I got shingles and I was in physical pain as well, I was afraid and angry, and I realized I could not survive like this,” Pat shared.

Aware of hospice and the grief support, she finally reached out and asked for help.

“This was a turning point for me: I joined a support group, and really connected with other participants, telling our stories, as well as voicing our concerns and fears.”

She still keeps in touch with some of those people who helped Pat came to realize she would never get over Don’s death, but she could learn to live with the memories.

“There is no time frame for grieving, it is hard work sometimes – one step forward and two back,” she said, crediting Langley Hospice and all the loving people in her life for helping her get through.

Later, she began to focus on her own life, and in doing so decided she wanted to give back as a volunteer for hospice.

Now, once a week, she helps out with the society’s supportive program centre – the very program benefiting from Saturday’s fundraiser.

“I love it,” she said. It is a safe and comfortable place for all,” as it was for her, when she needed it.

“My grief journey was a search to find meaning, grief changed me. I am different now. I have found hope and purpose in my life,” Pat told a hushed crowd.

“ I have realized an opportunity to reach out with understanding and compassion; I have walked the walk with lots of help from my friends and the Langley Hospice Society. Now I can let go of the emptiness in my heart. Believe it or not a few weeks ago, I was told ‘Pat you are always so happy’,” she said with a smile.

“In the end there really is a beginning!”

 

Sharing of food, drink, companionship at the Langley Hospice’s inaugural Plates & Glasses fundraiser Saturday helped raise money for bereavement support. (Special to the Langley Advance)