December 2001 – February 2002
Just thinking about death for many Westerners brings fear: fear of the prospect of losing everything familiar to them – their body, family, friends, possessions. Yet there are ways of helping each other, surrounding ourselves with the best possible conditions to leave positive imprints on our mind, to allow a peaceful death and to help in our future lives. Hilary Clarke, Grad, Dip. Counseling, who was one of the group who founded Karuna Hospice Service in Brisbane, Australia, reports.
When Lama Zopa Rinpoche suggested to Ven. Pende Hawter, an Australian Buddhist monk and physiotherapist, that helping people to reduce the fear of dying would be very beneficial, Pende and other Buddhist students founded a ‘hospice at home’ service in 1991. They called it ‘Karuna’ from the Sanskrit word meaning ‘compassion.’
At the time, there was no other free, specialist palliative care service offering 24-hours a day, seven days a week hands-on assistance to people in their own homes.
Ten years on, and with the help of the kindness and generosity of others and partial government funding (since 1994), the service has developed to include specialist palliative care nursing, family counseling and bereavement support, respite volunteer service, spiritual care, medical care and free loan of home nursing equipment to families. By 1995 we were able to establish Cittamani Hospice Service on the Sunshine Coast of Queensland. All our services are provided to patients in their own homes, we have no in-patient care….death and dying, hospice, socially engaged buddhism