Reflective tribute: Memorial honors 161 children who died at hospital

Published: Monday, May 18 2009 12:22 a.m. MDT

Her lungs were failing and the final option was to list her for a double lung transplant. Her parents didn't feel good about it. "She agreed that it wouldn't be the best thing as well, and we were able to make that decision together. The palliative team helped us see things we didn't want to see and understand things we needed to understand."

"We were treated like gold. … If I could choose a place for my children to die, it would be Primary Children's. As hard as death is, it was a beautiful experience here. … The things they arranged for us. I can't tell you how grateful I am."

Orley Bills, the palliative care team leader, said the program was organized two years ago. While grieving for both children and adults is individual, he does see some similarities.

"Guilt is huge. (Parents) feel there is something they should be doing or didn't do that caused (the child's death). And all parents feel helpless. They try to control whatever they can control."

His job is difficult, as he helps people walk through the dying process and loses children he has become close to, Bills said. But the chance to "bear witness" of small lives that make a difference in the world is priceless.

"I bear witness every day to pain, to kindness, to grief and to love. That's my job, to bear witness to people's stories."


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