Q & A

Why the word ‘Project’ in your name?

When Diane Palmason and Dale Presly founded the Salish Sea Hospice Project in 2014 we wanted to explore a process of dying that did not carry the overlay of disease, courageous battles and excessive medical intervention. Experience tells us that a death from natural causes in the home, in most cases, is very different from death in an institution. Death in the home or in a home-like setting, allows the dying person greater opportunity to engage the intense process of dying without the distractions, interference and excessive use of medications common in institutions.

The Salish Sea Hospice Project encourages and supports natural death in the home. In other words, we Companion Conscious Death.

Conscious Death has the following attributes:

  • Awareness of death as a transition—a process of releasing the human story.
  • Forgoing interventions that prolong dying.
  • Choosing the location for dying.
  • Deciding when it’s appropriate to voluntarily stop eating and drinking.

What is Companioning?

Companioning is death care that supports a conscious death. Companions are guides without agenda. Companions hold a presence or a radiance on an energetic pathway to the non-physical realms that the dying person can sense and take comfort from.

How does a Companion differ from a care giver?

Companioning and care giving are different roles. Having said that, many people, spouses in particular, find themselves in the dual role of Companion and care giver. A way to distinguish between the two: the care giver assists with personal hygiene and the demands of the body. The Companion connects at the energetic level to support the dreams, visions and decision-making that attend a conscious death.

What is VSED?

VSED, Voluntarily Stopping Eating and Drinking, eases the natural cessation of life. Deathbed experience tells us that limiting the intake of food and fluids in the final weeks of life makes dying easier to engage. As death approaches, a failing body simply cannot make use of food or excess fluid

What is the position of SSHP on MAiD?

We recognize that Medical Assistance in Dying or MAiD is a choice governed by Canadian law. We neither support MAiD nor do we oppose it. The Salish Sea Hospice Project is another path.

What about a hospice house?

The idea of a place to die, overlooking the Salish Sea, is a dream for now. It won’t be called a ‘hospice’. It will likely be called the Salish Sea Death Guest House. There will not be any color TV’s, no fancy hospital beds, no cupboards full of Boost. The Death Guest House will not be a care home but a place to spend the final weeks of life. Guests would have access to a Companion. The Death Guest House is a place for those who recognize their time to die and are ready to stop eating and drinking. Medically assisted death is not part of this model.

What services does the Salish Sea Hospice Project offer?

We teach the skill of Companioning so that anyone can support a loved one through the death transition. Diane has recently completed a green burial arrangement for herself. She has knowledge of that process. Dale is a Certified Dreamwalker Death Transitions™ facilitator and offers this service to individuals. A death in the home lends itself to post-death ceremony. To that end we are building a knowledge base and protocols that support a home funeral.

How are you growing the SSHP organization?

We are registered under the Canada Not-for-profit Corporations Act. We are not a provincial society nor a charity. We do not solicit donations. Until now, we have been largely self-funded with some additional support from memberships. We will seek Society status if and when we are bequeathed money and/or property. Until that time we intend to offer workshops and consulting services as a way to generate the revenue needed to cover operating and travel costs.

How do I get involved?

If you are reading this, you are somewhat curious about our approach to a natural death. More importantly, you may want to pioneer some of the changes in death care called for now. Curiosity and wonder are good companions in this endeavor. Conscious death and the deep understanding of death as one of many transitions a soul makes will come by way of the deaths we Companion and ultimately by the example of our own death.


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