Sheila Ann Whiteway is getting comfortable with death. She watched for months as a complete stranger made her slow march toward the end. She sat by her bedside, holding her hand for hours on end. The stranger couldn’t speak, so Whiteway sang to her or read her fairy tales as they shared the hours leading up to her death.
“It was powerful, really. This little wizened hand and you are holding it. And human touch – people like being touched, and the nurses and the doctors, they don’t have time for that kind of thing,” Whiteway recalled.
Whiteway, a semi-retired librarian, spends her free time with people who to varying degrees are staring down death. She is one of 30 volunteers for Prairie Hospice Society, an organization dedicated to providing comfort care and improving the limited days terminally ill patients have left.
While medical professionals are good at staving off death with aggressive interventions and treatment, there is a growing movement in Saskatoon to focus on the other side of end of life care – the kind that can’t be described in medical textbooks.
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