Offering comfort at the end of life

Posted July 17, 2011, at 5:46 p.m.

ROCKPORT — “The word ‘comfort’ means ‘to be strong with someone,’” observed Greg Marshall, interim chaplain for Pen Bay Healthcare and Kno-Wal-Lin Home Care and Hospice, in a recent conversation about his work with hospice patients and their families. “I’m not trying to get people to feel a certain way at the end of life — that’s being strong for somebody. I’m there to be strong with them where they are — listening to them, accepting them and understanding them.”

Marshall offers spiritual counsel, guidance and support to patients and families as the end of life approaches. Hospice helps patients and families with a wide range of delicate end-of-life care issues. A hospice physician, nurse, social worker, home health aide, volunteer visitor, chaplain, musicians and massage therapists are among the people whom patients and their families can call on.

“Hospice is about life and living, not death or dying,” said Marshall. “As strange as it may sound, we know that the quality of life can be good at its end and we help people experience this goodness. People find dignity and strength at this time of their lives,” said Marshall.

“It’s not necessarily a terrifying, anxious experience. It can be very peaceful. People can be ready for it and welcome it. And many people who have had very difficult and tragic lives are able to say at the end that life was good.”

Marshall is available to speak to religious and other organizations about the spiritual value of hospice care. For a schedule of his speaking engagements or to invite him to speak, call 594-9561.

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