These boots were made for grieving
New West Hospice Society’s River Walk helps community mourn and celebrate departed loved ones, one step at a time
Dianne Simpson is a co-president of the New West Hospice Society’s board of directors. Supplied.
Dianne Simpson believes that there is power in communities coming together to explore feelings of grief and loss.
As co-president of New West Hospice Society’s board of directors, she is focused on building a city in which death and dying are not something that is hidden away, but instead are openly acknowledged without stigma.
“So often, our grief takes place behind closed doors,” she tells The Anchor. “Because of this, it can be very hard to have vulnerable, authentic, and meaningful discussions about death,” she elaborates, acknowledging that outside of funerals and celebrations of life, there are not many opportunities to both mourn and celebrate people who have died.
“Creating opportunities for communal expressions of grief is really important. Grief so often is painted as one thing: sadness. And sadness is certainly one part. But there is also love. There is also celebration.”
It’s this multifaceted understanding of, and approach to grief that drives the New West Hospice Society’s upcoming River Walk, taking place on Sunday, June 4. Participants begin outside of the River Market and walk the length of the Quayside boardwalk in honour of a loved one.
“It’s a chance to bring people together, acknowledge losses that have happened over the past two years, and connect with others—be it the folks you’re walking with or others in the community who may be going through a similar experience.”
Funds raised through the walk will go towards supporting grief and end-of-life programs and services facilitated by the society.
Who are you walking for? The River Walk is a lovely way to celebrate someone you are missing. Please join us down by the river at the Quay on June 4th. Register as a participant or gather a team to raise funds in memory of your loved one. https://t.co/Pr4OM2oGiq #newwest #support
— New West Hospice (@NewWestHospice)
May 8, 2023
“We recently launched an expressive arts therapy drop-in program that is open to anyone in the city. It’s facilitated by an art therapist and incorporates music, dance, art, and writing as different ways of expressing and exploring personal grief.”
The society is also looking to expand its compassionate city crew, a group—created in conjunction with Fraser Health—that trains volunteers to help individuals with life-limiting illnesses with tasks, including meals, laundry, light housekeeping, gardening, and companionship.
The day will include performances by the Rainbow Chorus of New Westminster and local band Deep Six. A memorial tent will also be set up outside of the River Market where participants can share memories of their loved ones.
“You hear ‘music’ and ‘tent’ and it really starts to sound like a party,” Simpson says, “and we honour that. New West Hospice believes that grief can include both a quiet walk along the Quay and coming together for music and conversations. Our intention for this event is to provide an opportunity for people to participate regardless of where they are in their grief journey.”
The New West Hospice Society’s River Walk takes place rain or shine on Saturday, June 4 from 8:30am to noon. All ages and pets are welcome. Funds raised by walkers support hospice programs and services. Sign up and donation information is available on the New West Hospice Society website, or you can email [email protected]