Bells will be ringing: Locals recognize hospice month

ESCANABA – Bells were ringing on the front steps of Escanaba City Hall Friday as residents joined others across the nation in recognizing November as National Hospice Month.

About two dozen local individuals participated in Bells for Hospice by gathering outside city hall where prayers were read, songs were sung, and words were spoken about those who have undergone hospice care.

“We come together the first day of November to celebrate opportunities to work with families,” explained Lewis Hague after the ceremony. He is the bereavement coordinator and chaplain for Marquette General Home, Health and Hospice.

“We use this as an opportunity to solidify our purpose of caring for the families,” added Hague, who led the group in prayer.

Participants in OSF St. Francis Hospital’s hospice program also took part in Friday’s gathering.

Teams of professionals and volunteers from both hospitals offer services that allow hospice patients and their families to experience the end of life together at home.

Hospice care focuses on the quality of life rather than the death of the terminally-ill patient. Bereavement counseling is also available for families.

Hague explained that bells were rung during Friday’s gathering as a way to honor those who died under hospice care and those who are receiving hospice care.

“The bell ringing is a sound that reminds us of voices in the past or those going through hospice,” he said. “Every bell has a different sound and every voice has a different sound.”

Hague also related the bell ringing as a symbol of people caring for others. Hospice patients often use a bell to let family members know they are in need of something, he said.

For more information about hospice care, contact OSF Home Care Services at 786-3915, Marquette General Home, Health and Hospice at 789-1305, or visit the Michigan Hospice and Palliative Care Organization website at www.mihospice.org.