Eric Stephanson: Guiding Families on Difficult Journeys with Humanity
December 9, 2015
Humanity is always at the core of what the counsellors at Canuck Place do. The illness and death of a child is a life-altering experience.
Emotional, spiritual and psychosocial needs are ever-changing and often overwhelming for the children, and the family members who love them. Our counsellors are an essential part of the care given to families to help them cope with the most challenging situations.
Eric Stephanson is the Spiritual Care Leader at Canuck Place, and a reassuring and calming presence to many families. After 19 years of caring for families, Eric sees Canuck Place as having a very special quality. “Canuck Place Children’s Hospice is like a wonderful part of your extended family which you didn’t know you had, where you are encouraged and cared for, and always welcome, no matter what else is happening in your life.”
Eric and the team of counsellors aim to build on the innate strengths of the family members in order to help everyone adjust to each stage of the illness and beyond. “A central part of our work is that we not only attend to people’s actual physical experience of the journey, but we try to share with them insights, impressions, and stories which come directly from our practical experience,” said Eric. “This can give them tangible encouragement, strength, and hope in their inner self, to be able to cope a bit better along the shadowy difficult parts of the journey.”
When counsellors approach difficult situations with humanity, it means addressing all aspects of an experience. “Fear is not allayed by denying it, but by carefully addressing the various elements of the fear,” said Eric. Throughout the care given, Eric and the counsellors always respect the child and family’s wishes.
Getting through difficult experiences in life is often made easier with the help of others. Eric is known for his calming demeanor, and ability to give encouragement and compassion as children and families navigate through life.
As Eric says, “every step of life involves looking towards the next step, but we need to pay attention to where we are, as well as where we have been and where we are going.”
We’re grateful for Eric and the caring leadership and guidance he gives to children, families, and the Canuck Place team.