Content warning: The following article discusses themes of death and dying.
Danielle Fluker of Callaway, Maryland, has many wonderful memories of her father, from playing board games to sharing his favorite cookies. One of her best memories includes the hours she and her father spent together keeping bees through the years. When Danielle’s father passed away, one of the ways she found healing after loss was to show her appreciation to the team at St. Mary’s Hospice House who had cared so well for her father in his final days.
A Special Kind of Care
Hospice is a type of medical care that usually begins within the last six months of an individual’s life. Hospice is important because it does not simply provide for a patient’s medical needs. It also provides a support network for an individual’s family and loved ones. This type of support was critical for Danielle and her family during their difficult time. “The conversations and correspondence I had with the staff from hospice helped me so much,” shares Danielle. With their guidance, Danielle found comfort in being able to educate herself about hospice and the end-of-life transition.
She also saw the effects of the hospice team’s care upon other patients. “Those in hospice can find themselves in a dark place,” explains Danielle, “and knowing they are loved and supported is so, so important.”
Danielle learned the care that her local hospice provides costs nearly one million dollars per year. The hospice depends greatly upon donations and community support, and Danielle feared the staff did not receive enough appreciation for their work. As a path to healing after loss, Danielle was determined to find a way to thank the Hospice House team for all they had done throughout her father’s illness.
Buzzing With Gratitude
Danielle decided to shower Hospice House with gifts to brighten the patients’ rooms and the staff’s hearts. She was able to purchase flower bouquets, coffee, and cookies for the staff thanks to funds she received from Random Acts. The local Food Lion grocery store generously donated additional flower bouquets to decorate the hospice patients’ rooms.
The flower bouquets were particularly sweet for Danielle because of her history of beekeeping with her dad. “It just so happened the bouquets were decorated with bees, and that has been our symbol for honoring my father.” Amidst tears all around, the staff at Hospice House appreciated how the show of gratitude was a path to healing after loss for Danielle and her family.
The Ties That Bind
The loss of Danielle’s father was particularly difficult because he passed away on her son’s fourth birthday. To help cope with the loss of their grandfather, Danielle’s children had been reading The Invisible String by Patrice Karst and Joanne Lew-Vriethoff. In this book, there is a thread that connects people through love — even the people we can no longer see. On the day of the gift giving, Danielle’s four-year-old son told the hospice staff that he loved them and “had a string to them.”
Thanks to the strong bond her children formed with the hospice staff, Danielle plans to provide board games to help other children pass the time. Danielle said that her act of kindness made her feel empowered, even through her tears. In addition to the board games, as a next step on her journey through grief, she plans to consider volunteering at the hospice. Just as bees turn pollen into honey, Danielle has found a way to turn grieving into a time for growth.
For those who seek help with grief and loss, especially when children are involved, consider reaching out to such resources as Bo’s Place or the Mental Health Services Administration for counseling and support.
Local Acts Add Up to Global Good
Do you have an idea for an act of kindness in your own community? Random Acts can help with that! Contact your local Random Acts Regional Representative for information on Sponsored Acts or any other help you need to turn your idea into a reality.