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“After A Loss”

“A helping hand at a hurting time”

For the last twenty years, Heather (Watson) Taylor has been caring for the people of this area. In her work as a Registered Nurse—and most recently as part of the staff of St. Joseph Hospice in Sarnia—Heather has had considerable experience in supporting terminally ill patients and their families on that difficult final journey.

In the course of her service, Heather became increasingly aware of the specific concrete needs that many bereaved families experienced in the immediate wake of a loved one’s death. She would often hear comments from family members, who were both emotionally and physically exhausted after days (or weeks) of keeping vigil by the bedside of a family member or friend: “I haven’t been home in days … My house is a mess … I haven’t had a meal at home in weeks … There are no groceries in the house, and in a few hours, there will be dozens of people arriving at my home”. People were beyond tired, and yet there were so many immediate details to attend to: family members to be met at the airport, flowers to be picked out, appointments with a funeral director, and dozens of family and friends to be notified. Often, family members were working on little or no sleep, and sometimes there were few local resource people able to help them. It added up to a heavy burden on people’s shoulders, at a time when their spirits were often already crushed by loss.

And then there were the other details, often overlooked at the time: who would watch the house during visitations and the funeral, to avoid any possible break-ins? Who would help to provide food and drink at the house, allowing the family the time they needed to spend with special visitors? What arrange­ments would need to be made for childcare? There were dozens of such details to be attended to, in a very short span of time—and wouldn’t it be nice if someone were available to run small but neces­sary errands, or simply help with housework, so that people could be freed up for other, more important tasks?

Heather knew the situation well, and not merely from a professional perspective. In the spring of 2011, she had lost her own mother very suddenly, and she could remember the confusion, and how over­whelming all of the demands had been at the time. She had come from a small town, where every­one knew each other, and where neighbours immediately pitched in to help with those details … but not everyone was so fortunate.

Those kinds of experiences were what prompted Heather to begin thinking about how she might help to provide the kinds of support services that many families might need at such a time. Even with the wonderful range of services and options provided by local funeral directors, these needs would still require attention. She began to survey friends and family about their own experiences, and met with sev­eral local funeral directors, to better understand needs they could identify from their long experience in the field. It quickly became obvious that there were several categories of services that some families could definitely benefit from.

“After A Loss” is Heather’s attempt to help meet those needs, in a professional, compas­sionate and flexible way. Working in collaboration with local funeral directors, she tries to respond promptly and effectively to the specific needs of each family, offering a range of services tailor-made to their unique situation. She offers a variety of pre-arranged packages, including home care, food and bever­age services, house-sitting, pet care and car cleaning in the hours and days after a death has occurred—and these can be supplemented by whatever the family’s own needs might be. In the weeks following a death, there are many errands to be attended to, “thank you’s” to be written, dishes and medi­cal equipment to be returned—all of which can be equally emotionally and physically taxing, espe­cially for elderly clients.

Working hand-in-hand with local funeral homes, Heather considers it a privilege to be able to accompany bereaved families through those difficult hours and days, and offers her professional skills and background to support them in whatever ways they might need. She is available on a 24/7 basis to meet with families wherever is most convenient for them, to discuss their needs and how she might best be able to serve them. “I understand the whirlwind people can face when someone they love dies—when you don’t think you can manage to do one more thing—and sometimes an extra pair of hands can make all the difference. I try to anticipate people’s needs and respond to them in a caring, supportive way that respects their own situation.”

Anyone wishing to inquire about the range of services offered by “After A Loss” can Contact us to see how we can assist you & your family.