I traveled to Santa Barbara last week to tour two hospice houses and explore what other communities were doing to serve those at the end of life.
The houses were nothing like I expected. Instead of having an aura of sadness looming in the hallways; the houses have a spiritual, positive energy that exude a sense of warmth and welcoming for all its guests. The amenities also were incredible. One house had a fresh vegetable garden and Spanish-style decor, while the other had an elegant sitting room for families, and even a medically adapted spa. We were ready to move in ourselves!
I found many of the rituals conducted around the end of someone’s life to be incredibly inspiring as well. At one house, when someone passes, the all those inside gather at the front door to say goodbye. Then, a small altar of photos and memorabilia is erected for seven days in that person’s memory. The ceremony provides comfort to others in the house, as well as their families, knowing that their passing will be honored in the same way.
After my visit, it struck me how important it is to honor the end of life. In our society, we celebrate everything from births and first communions to marriages and anniversaries, but steer clear of talking about, much less celebrating, death. However, there was no doubt that the support and nurturing given to patients and their loved ones through hospice care, in a hospice house, had a powerful and positive impact on everyone.
One of my long-term visions is to build a hospice house in Southern California that would serve the Los Angeles and Orange Country communities. This trip reaffirmed my belief in the benefit that a local hospice house would bring to thousands of people and their families in Southern California. I hope that you will help support me in this important endeavor down the road.
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