For the sake of enhancing the caring for members, Fo Guang Shan Temple of Toronto and BLIA Toronto Chapter jointly established the Buddha’s Light Spiritual Care Group.
The 10-week volunteer training from February 23 to April 27 was arranged for volunteers. It was led by Stephanie Hong, a psychotherapist and spiritual counsellor. A total of 16 members completed the training.
The training program covered the subjects of Orientation to Buddhist Hospice Palliative Care, Listening and communication skills, Mind and Speech at End of Life Pain and Symptom Management – Body at End of Life, Grief and Bereavement, Cultural consideration, family, care for caregivers, etc. The former head of BLIA Young Adult Division Toronto and also a Registered Nurse, Joanna Chu was invited to teach body pain, symptom management, and infection prevention and control during visits. Pam Loughton, a specialist in hospice care, taught grief and bereavement. Pei-Peng Ross, Supervisor of BLIA Detroit Chapter, shared her experience of hospice care.
On the subject of “Exploring the Meaning of Life and Death through the Perspective of Dharma,” Venerable Chueh Fa, Director of Fo Guang Shan Chung Mei Temple, compassionately led volunteers to realize that through practice, Buddhists could change the three uncertainties in life: when to die, how to die, and where to go after death, into three certainties in life: foreseeing the death, dying peacefully, and being greeted by Buddha after death. To believe that physical life has birth and death but spiritual and moral life lives forever.
In the last lesson, role play of two cases was arranged with 7 participants. Everyone was fully engaged and applied what they had learned in the past 10 weeks. A discussion followed after role play. Students acknowledged the difference between theory and actual operation. They also learned the importance of listening, empathy, timing, and self-improvement.
Venerable Chueh Fan, Abbess of Fo Guang Shan Temple of Toronto, specially attended the last class and observed the role play. She thanked Venerable Chueh Fa for her teaching and guidance, praised Stephanie for her leadership, and hoped the volunteers stick to their original intents, learn as they grow, and perfect themselves for the benefit of others. Everyone cherished this learning opportunity and was grateful to Fo Guang Shan Temple of Toronto and teachers for their compassionate dedication.