Terminal Candor

Foreword to the Online Edition from 2011

(photo below of Reverend Donald Wilson and Barbara Wilson)

It is hard to believe that 30 years have passed since Hospice of Lancaster trained its first volunteers, hired an Executive Director and admitted its first patients. It is also more than 30 years since the publication of the first edition of Terminal Candor.

As I re-read the Foreword to that first edition, so eloquently written by Dr. Paul Davidson, I am aware that while much has changed in 30 years, both for Hospice and the Lancaster County community, much remains the same. The pressures of 20th Century life that Dr. Davidson describes remain, perhaps even more intensified in the 21st Century, and Death remains the final event in the human experience. Terminal Candor remains as relevant today to all of us who struggle with our issues of death, dying, grief and the ultimate celebration of life as it was in 1980. I believe that I am blessed to have a perspective in 2010 that no one had in 1980. I know what happened next. I know that Lancaster County embraced the hospice concept.

Since 1980, Hospice has both refined and expanded on its Mission and its Vision statements. The growth of the agency has been phenomenal, confirming my father’s belief that there was a real need for a hospice program in Lancaster. The “cons” presented in that first edition of Terminal Candor, especially with regard to the possibility of establishing a free standing facility apart from a hospital where people could receive compassionate end-of-life care, have been refuted by the Lancaster community. The Essa Flory Hospice Center, the facility in Mount Joy and the PATHways Center for Grief and Loss are powerful evidence that this is so. Donald Wilson had a hope, an expectation even, that there could be a way for this community to allow death and dying to become a part of life and living; He might say “We need to live and die out loud”. I certainly think he came to regard the establishing of a Hospice in Lancaster as not only the final act of his more than 30 year ministry, but also the most important part of this ministry. He began a dialogue with the community that continues and encourages people to embrace mortality, their own as well as others, rather than avoid it.  I remember a comment he once made, that “people who are dying are “dying” to talk about it.” I think this is true.

Dad had a vision, but Hospice of Lancaster is what it is today because many people came to share that vision. Hospice is not about numbers, despite impressive statistics. Hospice is about a community that came to embrace a vision and expand upon it. Hospice demonstrates the power of the “Widow’s Mite”. It started with only a couple of patients and a very small budget, but it now provides hospice and palliative care to almost half of the individuals who die each year in Lancaster County.

I am proud of my father and I am proud of the Lancaster community for responding with such support and affirmation to the challenges and opportunities Dad presented. I am also proud of my mother, Barbara Wilson Rowen. Mother made Hospice her cause, too, for the rest of her life.

I hope this online edition reaches a wider readership than a printed edition would and I hope that it helps us all to live fully, after the trumpet’s call.

With love to my parents, the staff and volunteers at Hospice and the citizens of Lancaster County for helping to create something wonderful.

Julie F. Wilson, LCSW

To read Terminal Candor, Click Here.