The end came peacefully for Don Beal.
He died at age 77 last Friday afternoon at Prince George Rotary Hospice House, surrounded by his immediate family. Beal was featured last month as part of In My Time of Dying, a series of Citizen stories exploring end-of-life issues.
"It was just nice and peaceful, he was basically comatose and he just stopped breathing," said Patti Shaw, Beal's daughter.
"He had made his peace. The staff at the hospice were incredible. They make the end of life the best you possible could have."
Beal and how he came into hospice care six months ago as a terminal cancer patient was the subject of a Citizen story published on Aug. 25.
"We are grateful to Don Beal for agreeing to be interviewed about his experience in Rotary Hospice House," said Donalda Carson, executive director of the hospice.
"Don appreciated the hospice home-like atmosphere and wanted everyone to be aware so they can use our services when necessary. He was brave to do so. His stay here was a bit extended, as can happen in certain circumstances, so we developed a great rapport with him and got to know his family as well."
Beal was admitted as a hospice guest in April. As a result of medication administered by hospice staff to relieve the pain of his cancer, he was able to make daily visits to the hospice kitchen area for crib games and took pleasure in visiting the outdoor gardens with his wife Judy, their four children and four grandchildren and family dogs. His smiling face and goodhearted sense of humour left a lasting impression on hospice staff.
"Being admitted to hospice provides a chance for family and friends to spend quality time with the patient and allow our staff to take on the necessary tasks or relieving distressing symptoms," said Carson. "People are afraid of death and require an atmosphere of skilled empathetic caregivers to provide symptom relief and support and understanding for their family. Dying at home is very difficult for family and patient as 24-hour care is necessary.
"We need all the help we can get to educate people about hospice palliative care. No better person than one who has experienced our love and support."
At Beal's request, there was no funeral service. Donations, in lieu of flowers, can be made to the Hospice Society or the B.C. Cancer Clinic.