Sherwood found good deaths at Canuck Place in south Vancouver, the first free-standing pediatric hospice in North America, where he worked from 1995 to 2001 with chronically ill and dying children. That meant managing their pain, along with their angst, their fears, their questions . . . like what happens next?
“I found if you treat them the way you treat anyone else, then they know they’re not dead yet. There can be a lot of laughs in those final days, even when you’re feeling sadness.”
Sherwood found his strength was dealing with death honestly, taking time to listen and ask the right questions — like how are you feeling, what are you thinking or frightened about?
“Dying isn’t just about the physical stuff, it’s about the heart, the spirit. Most patients will tell you that nobody talks to them about the dying process and what to expect. They’re in a place where they feel so alone.
“I go to those dark places with them. I can’t understand what they’re going through — nobody can die for you — but being able to listen to them means somebody cares.”