Barbara & Bob's Story

Barbara and Bob Plante had their whole retirement planned out. Traveling, enjoying sports and simply spending time with one. Neither one had planned to receive the news, in May 2008, that Bob’s life would be cut short due to a terminal illness. Everything they worked for was thrown into chaos. Through this chaotic time they found a place of comfort – that place was Hospice. .

“I noticed that Bob was resting a lot more,” says Barbara. “He was napping more and not feeling well. I took him  in for some tests and not long afterwards we both received the news that he had an inoperable tumor.  There was nothing they could do for him. The harsh reality of the situation set in and before we left the hospital, palliative care was in place.”

At a time when Barbara thought she would be enjoying her retirement with her husband, she became his 24 hour/7 day a week caregiver. She saw her partner of 40 years slowly decline right in front of her eyes. Yet, through it all she stayed strong, for Bob, for herself and for her family. She credits her time at Hospice for helping her though these difficult times.

“Every time I stepped through the doors at Hospice, it felt like being wrapped in a warm hug. I was able to access some of the therapies at Hospice, which really re-energized me. I felt guilty at first using these wonderful programs, but as a hospice worker told me – you need someone to take care of you too and that is why Hospice is here. The Hospice worker was right. I felt much better and was able to be a better caregiver for Bob.’

Bob passed away 10 weeks after his diagnosis. Barbara soon found herself struggling to face the harsh reality of trying to put her own life back together. She turned to Hospice as a place where she could find the support to help her cope with her grief and start a new chapter of her life without Bob.

“No matter what anyone says, it is devastating. I felt lost and some days overwhelmed by sadness. I met with my hospice worker and she suggested a number of bereavement support programs that would help me cope with my grief. I joined a walking group, which was not my first choice, but was exactly what I needed. Here, there were people who understood what I was going through and did not judge me for how I was feeling. It was the first big step in the new chapter of my life.”

The Walking with Friends program offers bereaved men and women the chance to meet on a weekly basis, to walk and share their feelings with others, supported by trained hospice volunteers. Barbara met many other people who shared her feelings and she drew strength from knowing that she was not alone. Her participation in the walking group enabled Barbara to express her feelings, learn coping skills and more importantly realize that even though Bob was gone, she still had her own life to live.

“You never get over the death of a loved one, but you learn to cope and live without them present. Hospice is truly a wonderful place. You do not have to be alone through this difficult time. Hospice staff and volunteers are here to support you.”

Her future plans include travel and one day volunteering with Hospice. She feels strongly that her own experiences may help someone else facing a similar situation in the near future. She is hopeful that through her own advocacy, more and more people will turn to Hospice so that they too can experience the compassionate support which was so helpful to her and her family. will