Memorial Day allows for Closure

"The memorial on Sunday gave me a sense of closure and relief as my father donated his body to WITS University, so we never had a body or ashes. Being able to throw sand onto the buried capsules and release balloons was an incredibly emotional but cathartic experience. I also had a chance to say goodbye to my dear friend, Tracy as until Sunday I could not bear to let her go. She never came to terms with dying. Having the special caregivers there for support and so many other people who shared in the day meant so much to me. Thank you for all the hard work and thought that went into this behind the scenes. "
- Lynn Holmes

The above extract from a letter received after the annual Memorial Day at Stepping Stone Hospice & Care Services on Sunday 16 September, summarizes what was an incredibly emotional and humble experience.

Over 200 people, mostly family members of patients who were cared for by Stepping Stone Hospice, gathered in the hospice gardens in New Market Park to remember and honour their loved ones.

"This was our fifth Memorial Day since opening our doors in 2013," says Stepping Stone Hospice CEO, Tersia Burger. "What broke my heart this year, was to see how many children were amongst those attending on Sunday. It just shows how our young people are more and more affected by the devastating effects of life-limiting illnesses and the need to include them in the grief and bereavement processes involved when a loved one passes away," says Tersia.

Families and friends were encouraged to bring along a small photo, letter and/or token in memory of their loved one. These were then put inside a memory capsule that was placed in the hospice's Garden of Remembrance.

In thanking those attending and everyone involved in putting the day together, Tersia also made mention of the planned extension of the existing In-Patient Unit. "A lot of hard work and planning is happening behind the scenes to enable us to reach out to even more people in need of our services," she says.

The In-Patient Unit will be extended from an 8-ward unit to a 14-ward unit, all thanks to the combined efforts of Kim Scanell from Grayston Travel, who donated a 435sqm park home that was previously used as offices, Russell Cruickshank from Cornerstone Projects who will head up the project, Thersea Corrigan from SCS Architects and a fantastic team of sponsors and donors.

Stepping Stone Hospice & Care Services is an independent community driven organization and the first ever service of its kind in the Greater Alberton area of Ekurhuleni and Johannesburg South. The hospice provides appropriate professional palliative care for patients diagnosed with life threatening and life limiting illnesses and offer Support for families of people living with these illnesses.

Caption: This young man lost his mom to cancer - she passed away at Stepping Stone Hospice only days ago. He wrote her a personal note, placed it in the time capsule and helped the adults bury the capsules in the Garden of Remembrance. A brave young warrior!

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