THUNDER BAY - When Melissa McClement’s grandmother was nearing the end of her life, she didn’t know where to turn.
McClement and her family were sad and confused about what it meant to have a loved one go through palliative care.
That's when she reached out to Hospice Northwest.
“It was a really painful and confusing time," McClement said. "It wasn’t for a lack of care, there was really wonderful care, but we didn’t realize there was a lot of resources in our community.
McClement, who is now the fund development consultant at Hospice Northwest, approached the palliative care organization with the idea of creating a ‘comfort kit’ that would assist any family in the community who is dealing with the death of a loved one.
“You plan for a great birth, you plan for lots of things in life, but oftentimes people don’t plan properly for their death,” said Cherie Kok, executive director of Hospice Northwest.
Hospice Northwest is a palliative care service that offers support to patients who are reaching, but not limited to, the end of their life.
The kits include a journal, a deck of cards, hand lotion, tissues, a nutrition bar, lotion, and lip balm, and resources. It also includes a book from Dr. Kathy Kortes-Miller, a local palliative-care educator and researcher, who writes about some of the difficulties people dealing with a loved one in palliative care may deal with.
The kits are available at hospitals throughout the city and are intended for any community member going through the death of a loved one.
After handing out 500 test kits, Hospice Northwest received an $8,000 donation from the Fort William Rotary to help.
“We absolutely could not create (the kits) without their help. We’re just thrilled to have their support,” said Kok.
Kok says each kit takes about $45 to make. They are hoping the donation will allow 400 additional kits to be spread throughout the community.
“In Thunder Bay, we have roughly 1,000 deaths per year, so we have some work to do in getting them in the hands of everyone who needs one,” Kok said.
The group is also reaching out to the community to ask for help in providing blankets for future comfort kits.
“We just want to provide peace of mind,” McClement said. “We know this is a terrible time that you’re going through, and we want them to know there’s an organization here that provides care and compassion for these situations.