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AHCH celebrates the 10 year anniversary for AHCH’s Hospice House

Lewiston, Maine 11.11.15 – Androscoggin Home Care & Hospice’s (AHCH) hospice care facility, the Hospice House, is celebrating its 10 year anniversary. In 2005, construction completed and the Hospice House was open. November of 2015 marks an important date in history for the agency as the 10 year milestone is approached.

The Hospice House provides patients, and their families, intensive palliative interventions and support, beyond what can be effectively provided in their home or long-term care facility. The compassionate and skilled staff are committed to working with each individual and family to develop a plan of care that reflects patient and family wishes and provides the highest quality of comfort care. The Hospice house has a peaceful and calming atmosphere. There is a large kitchen that family and friends are welcome to use, as well as a living room, sun room and various other quiet spaces around the home. Outside, there is a reflection trail that goes through the woods, with benches for quiet talks and needed retreats. At the entrance, there is a unique stone garden that is symbolic of the return to nature and also memorializes those who are no longer with us. Friends of the Hospice House, Dianne and Lucie Boucher, brought the idea to fruition and the sculpture “Migration of the Spirit” was completed. Recently, a memorial for the Migration of the Spirit was held at the home, demonstrating just how caring the staff and volunteers are at AHCH.

“When we opened the Hospice House 10 years ago, it became evident to me as the manager that we would need to infuse the Hospice House with traditions and ceremonies that could be physically comforting for staff (who clearly would experience the impact of cumulative deaths of patients), families and caregivers” explains Karen Flynn, Hospice Director. The Migration of the Spirit ceremony began with staff meeting monthly to read the names of those who has passed away, and choosing a stone in their honor. Families wanted to get involved, and it evolved into something bigger. Families at the Hospice House can choose a unique stone that they feel represents their lost loved one. Some families adorn the stones with symbols or messages and the stones are placed in a glass bowl sanctuary inside the home. Outside, there are 4 sculptures with glass bowls, elevated at different descending heights by ornate rod iron. As time passes, the stones are moved from inside the sanctuary to the tallest sculpture in the garden, and then moved down lower and lower until the stones are returned to the earth in the stone garden. The Hospice house staff hold a memorial service twice a year to honor those who passed away.

During the ceremony, Karen Flynn and Jaime Eller, Hospice House Social Worker, play peaceful music with guitar and violin, and follow up with the story of the memorial stones. Kate Sicotte, Hospice House Supervisor, does a reading and invites people to share stories and reflect. Lissa Bradford, AHCH Chaplain, leads a blessing of the stones and prayer, followed by a moment of silence. The staff takes the stones from the Hospice House out to the stone garden, and move the existing stones from the sculptures to a lower position. It represents both the spirits ascension to a higher plane and the physical bodies return to the earth. Ultimately, all the stones will undergo the same journey, just as the staff and families begin their journey with the healing process. Karen explains “We encourage everyone to add meaning and honor to the powerful experience that death is and to experience the healing energy that ceremony can provide. We hope that this brings peace and healing following the loss of a loved one. A stone is just a stone until we hold it in our hands and infuse it with our memories of that unique person that we have cared for, loved, embraced and released.”

The stone garden memorial is just one of the many ways that AHCH shows caring and compassion to patients and families. For 10 years now, patients of the Hospice House have experienced the kindness that the staff provide day in and day out that continues even beyond their time at the Hospice House.

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