Program recognizes those who help the dying

Published 12:00 am Monday, October 16, 2000

Tiffany Hubbard holds a candle during Saturday night’s International Candlelight Memorial Service at Christ Episcopal Church. The event was to honor people who have died while in hospice care. Fifty-one hospice patients have died in Warren and Claiborne counties in 2000. (The Vicksburg Post/PAT SHANNAHAN)

The flame traveled from person to person, up the aisles and down the rows as the names of loved ones lost to terminal illness were read.

Each name was different, but the men, women and children holding the small white candles had something in common.

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They were gathered at Christ Episcopal Church Saturday night for “Voices of Hospice,” a worldwide event to recognize the role of hospice in easing the weight of caring for a dying family member, and in helping them put together their lives afterward.

The Vicksburg High School Choir and the Vicksburg Chamber Choir joined a chorus of voices from Argentina to Zimbabwe, singing the “Hallelujah Chorus” from Handel’s “Messiah.”

“People in 40 countries will all be singing this song at 7 p.m. by their local time,” said Valtreasa Tolliver, head of the Hospice Care Foundation in Vicksburg. “So the song will travel around the world in an unbroken chain of voices.”

Hospice is a non-profit network of physicians, social workers, chaplains and volunteers designed to help families through the physical, emotional and spiritual challenges of caring for a dying loved one, said Ingrid Powell, a social worker with Hospice Care Foundation.

Fifty-one people in Warren and Claiborne counties have died in the past year while under the care of hospice workers.

“There are people out there that are terminally ill that don’t know about us,” Powell said. “We can help them with pain management, with home health, spiritual guidance and bereavement counseling.”

Dian Riley burned a candle Saturday to support the hospice program that helped her family during and after her husband’s long struggle with a brain tumor, which ended with his death 16 months ago.

“They gave us encouragement and guidance,” she said. “They took a lot of the burden off when we needed it.”

Her son, Brian Riley, said hospice workers did everything from physically helping care for his father to picking up medicines from the drugstore and just being there to talk to.

“Hospice was always there,” he said. “When you can’t give the loved one the help they need, they are there to lend their support.”