#HPCMonth: Burlington’s Compassionate City Charter will reshape way we perceive death

Categories: Care.

We know with the birth of every human baby that death is an inevitable part of the deal. It’s what we sign up for when we are given life.

Throughout that life most of us, if we are lucky, are social animals. We make connections with others, we laugh, we cry, we share. We aspire to treat each other with kindness and compassion.

But too often at the end of life our fears around dying prevent us from celebrating the life lived and I firmly believe that is something we can change.

“If you want others to be happy, practise compassion. If you want to be happy, practise compassion.” – Dalai Lama

In May 2015, Public Health Palliative Care International launched the Compassionate City Charter. The charter is a framework of 12 social changes that lead communities towards being more compassionate cities. It’s a community initiative that focuses on increasing awareness and better use of existing and new palliative care resources.

Through a variety of community events, it helps to add a sense of normalcy to death, dying and grief and enables people to be more comfortable talking about and planning for these inevitable life events.

It advocates changing our entire perspective about death and dying.

At Carpenter Hospice we know that having loved ones leave us surrounded by warmth, love and compassion is so much better than the alternative. We want to actively foster an environment where compassion and celebration of life becomes the norm — whether that’s education programs explaining to kindergarten kids that saying goodbye to grandma is a normal part of life or policies in the workplace that truly support those who are grieving instead of time off to simply dry their tears.

For the past year, Carpenter Hospice has been quietly laying the foundation for a Compassionate City Charter for Burlington. We are not alone in our belief that our city can achieve this charter.  The mayor, our politicians, the hospital, educational institutions, local businesses, the art gallery, faith communities, libraries and media outlets have all committed to supporting this charter for Burlington.

In fact, Carpenter Hospice is excited to officially launch the Compassionate City Charter in Burlington from Oct. 2-8. Burlington residents will be able to actively participate in the launch of the Compassionate City Charter. The week includes many free events the whole family can enjoy.

The list includes interactive art, free movies, children’s book readings, safe space for conversations, reflections rooms, memorial tree planting, grief and dream workshops, and the first recipient of the Mayor’s Award for Compassion.

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