The red bungalow on Highway 89 in Alliston, across from the Nottawasaga Inn and Resort, has a sign on the front lawn that lets passers-by know it is no ordinary house. While, to many, a “hospice” is a place where people go to die, Matthew’s House is a place where people come to learn how to live; live knowing they’re going to die, live while caring for someone who is dying and to learn how to live again after their loved one passes away.
The Matthew’s House, an offshoot of Hospice Simcoe, is a non-profit organization that provides services free of charge. The organization has 150 volunteers, many of whom provide in-home non-medical end of life support.
Guest speakers come to Matthew’s House to give practical advice from Power of Attorney information to nutrition to planning a funeral.
Personal therapies like massage and reiki, therapeutic touch, reflexology, and holistic Chinese medicine are offered by volunteers who are trained in their fields. There are also group therapies like tai chi, drumming and yoga. When the snow is melted and the ground is thawed, Matthew’s House boasts a beautiful garden and forest area for clients to enjoy and work in.
Wendy Graham, Coordinator of Client Program and Services, says Matthew House Hospice is a place for support from diagnosis onward, not just for the last days of someone’s life.
Robert Oakes, a board member at Matthew’s House Hospice, was once a client himself. His wife passed away from a terminal illness. He says he and his wife received tremendous support from the volunteers at Matthew’s House.
After his wife’s death, Oakes found that he had a lot of sadness to deal with and asking for help was hard. Graham explains that asking for help to deal with grief is hard because people don’t see sadness as an illness which needs care. As such, they don’t give grief its due.
Grief is a journey. It is what has happened and what is happening to someone. The process of dealing with grief can take anywhere from 18 months to 2 ½ year. Graham says “85% of people can move through grief healthily if given the chance.”
At Matthew’s House Hospice, the support groups help people make sense of their grief, learn from it and then help others with what they’ve learned.
Matthew’s House Hospice receives 17% funding yearly from the government. The rest of the funds to run the hospice is raised through donations and fundraising efforts.
For information, visit their website www.matthewshousehopsice.ca.