Last year when Canadian Virtual Hospice revitalized its Discussion Forums, our goal was to create a safe, welcoming place online where Canadians could do what they do best – help each other. Now, with over 2200 posts from more than 120 members, the Discussion Forums host a well established and growing online community. Every day members support each other, talking about many aspects of caregiving, dying, end of life, loss and grief. The discussions often accumulate over 30 messages, with several threads sporting over a 100 messages.
Why do people come to the Discussion Forums? They want to connect with others who have shared experiences. They want to know that they’re not alone. They seek other people who have travelled or are travelling this road. They look for insight, inspiration, understanding and the strength of a virtual hand to hold.
“Virtual Hospice’s online community is a fabulous project”, says Anna Feindel, Hope & Cope’s Palliative Care Coordinator at the Jewish General Hospital. “… people who are isolated have access to support, be they patients, family members or caregivers. Because it is a virtual space, people in rural areas or stuck in the house can reach out and get help. That’s the beauty of it.”
What do they find? They find a welcoming community of supportive people who’ve “been there” or “are there”– people who actively listen and do not judge, who share their stories realizing that everyone’s path is different. They find understanding, practical tips and guidance.
“This forum is exactly what I need. It allows me to be open, honest and without judgement. It allows me to meet people with similar issues, and to respond in my own time.” – debbied2007
What do people talk about? Many things. Family members talk about the complexities of family dynamics, caring from a distance and living with loss. Caregivers share the practical day-to-day realities of caregiving. People who have a life-limiting illness talk about living while “staring death in the face,” making their legacy meaningful, how to comfort their children and managing feelings including guilt. Some simply want to share their reflections, the things that inspire them and make them smile.
What do the community members get out of sharing on Virtual Hospice? They get support, guidance and compassion. They also get satisfaction knowing that in helping themselves, they help others. On average every message posted gets read by 100 people, so a message of support extends well beyond the active community members.
“Our community of loss is more a community of healing and discovery. We are here for ourselves and others. Share and listen with your heart and those you share with will guide you.” – Mark99
What can you do? It’s free to join and easy to get started. To take part you only have to submit an email address and postal code or country. Let other people know about the Discussion Forums and help our community grow.