Lilian Dudfield

Mission Hospice Society founder passes away

Lilian Dudfield passed away on Saturday, Dec. 19. A memorial service will be held on Dec. 28 at 1 p.m. at the Clarke Theatre.

Lilian Dudfield, the founding member of the Mission Hospice Society, passed away suddenly on Saturday, Dec. 19 at the Abbotsford Regional Hospital.

In a press release issued by the society, it stated “Lilian who celebrated her 95th birthday in November, lived a life that positively touched the lives of so many people. Lilian will be truly missed but, her life’s many achievements will always be a reminder to us of this extraordinary and passionate lady.”

Angel Elias, executive director of the Mission Hospice Society said the loss was “very unexpected” and will be felt by family, friends and the community.

“On behalf of the Hospice Society we are completely devastated, said Elias. “She touched everybody’s heart. It’s a big loss.”

She said from volunteers to patients, the news of Dudfield’s passing has impacted everyone.

“There are no words to describe the loss that is being felt at the hospice society. Shock is the first thing that comes to mind. Lilian Dudfield created and is the founder of the Mission Hospice Society. She is the heart and soul of the society, along with all the volunteers. So it’s going to leave a huge, empty hole within the society itself.”

Dudfield was recently honoured by the society at its 30th anniversary celebration.

“In hindsight it makes us very happy that we had the opportunity to recognize her and all that she did,” said Elias.

Lilian’s memorial service has been scheduled for Monday Dec. 28, from 1 to 4 p.m.  at the Clarke Theatre.

 

How it Began:

Lilian Dudfield founded the Mission Hospice Society  in 1985. A lifelong member of the society, Dudfield began the society primarily because she wasn’t very happy with the idea of death.

She first started contemplating the idea while working as an administrator for a care home in Prince George. She didn’t like the procedure used to deal with terminally ill patients.

In an interview with the Record in August of 2015, she explained how it began.

“They would put them (terminally ill patients) in a room by themselves when they were dying. And I got to know these people and I didn’t feel they should be on their own,” she said.

Dudfield used to sneak into their rooms, hold their hands and talk to them.

“Even if they are unconscious I still think they can hear you and I don’t think anybody should die alone.”

After moving to Mission and viewing a six-week long television special on the Knowledge Network about hospice and palliative care, Dudfield  attended an information meeting, in Abbotsford.

Inspired after the meeting, Dudfield and Abbotsford’s Jeanette Poulin agreed that a hospice program was needed in the valley. They decided to hold their own meeting to see if others were interested in forming a group.

To their surprise, more than 100 people showed up. Dudfield took the names of all the people from Mission and the Hospice Society was born.

“We found that it was so needed,” she said.

Dudfield’s husband had passed away in 1979 and there were no grief recovery programs for her at that time.

Now the society could help others.

“Not that we were counsellors but we listened.”

She said at that time, “you couldn’t talk to people about dying. It just wasn’t done.”

But it’s a different story today. Programs are available to assist, not only the patient, but the family as well.

One of the many aspects that Dudfield feels is important is to talk to the patients just after they have been diagnosed.

“That’s when they really need to have somebody to talk to. You can’t talk to family members because they are all upset. And although I’m not upset, I’m compassionate towards them and I listen to them and hear what they’re feeling.”

Dudfield always visited with patients, even int her 90s.

Dudfield said the Hospice Society was a dream, that she always knew would be successful and would grow.

But she still wanted more.

“I’d like to see it grow further. There are only 10 beds in this community. We need more.”