The Sharing My Story biography program enables our palliative clients to document their life story and preserve it in a printed, bound and beautifully embossed book full of memories and photos from their life’s journey. It makes a very special gift for their loved ones that can be shared with those yet to grow up or be born and handed down to future generations.
The stories are written with the support of our fantastic volunteers, who meet with the clients weekly for around four to six weeks, to document their history and scan their photos before laying out the material and bringing it back to the client for review.
Our volunteers may also assist clients to write letters to relatives for future momentous occasions which they know they will not live long enough to see. These might include special birthdays and weddings.
Retired school principal Pam Glover has volunteered on our program for the past six years and has already completed 69 biographies in that time. Some of them are written simply in the form of a children’s book.
“We were originally trained by a couple of academics from the Professional Writing and Editing course at Swinburne University,” Pam explained.
“I’ve written many stories over the years and learned about so many interesting lives. I’m writing four at the moment including a children’s version for the grandchildren of a client in a nursing home,” she said.
Sonal Pednekar joined the program as a volunteer after her father was supported by Palliative Care South East when he was diagnosed with pancreative cancer and was able to die at home thanks to the end of life care provided by PCSE.
“I enjoy writing and I have a professional career as a people manager. I think I connect with people well. I have that emotional connection and emotional intelligence and that’s why I chose the biography program,” Sonal said.
“It is an absolutely fantastic initiative that gives our clients an opportunity to celebrate their lives in their own words as opposed to someone writing it after they have passed away.”
“It is a very fulfilling experience. It gives me a feeling that I am able to make a difference in our client’s lives by being there to listen to them, help them reflect on their journey of life and put that down in words for them and their family to cherish for life,” Sonal said.
“When you are dealing with clients that are unwell, it can be quite challenging to get them to talk about things that make them happy or get them to reflect back on their past. It can make some of them very emotional so you need to be really patient, agile and able to think on your feet,” Sonal said adding that she loves the work and also enjoys meeting other volunteers.
Our Sharing My Story program was started in 2016 thanks to the support of community funding.
If you are interested in joining our volunteer biographers, click here.
Sharing My Story is one of many services made possible by generous donations and fundraising from our community. You can help us continue this program and the wide array of services and programs we offer to those with a life limiting or terminal illness by donating today.