Palliative care champion Teresa Dellar laid to rest
Published Tuesday, September 3, 2019 4:52PM EDT Last Updated Wednesday, September 4, 2019 1:30PM EDT
Family, friends and dignitaries have paid their last respects to Teresa Dellar, the founder of the West Island Palliative Care Residence.
She died in August at 58 years old after a long illness.
Hundreds gathered at St. Patrick's Basilica on Tuesday afternoon to honour the leader in end-of-life care. Dellar devoted her life to easing the pain and suffering of those in their final days.
Her dream of creating a comforting home in Montreal's West Island was realized in 2002 when the centre opened, allowing people to be with their loved ones at the end of their lives.
She was remembered as warm and supportive during some families' greatest hardships.
"What's one of the most remarkable things about her is she found a piece of her heart for all the families who came through," said Geoff Kelley, a former Quebec MNA whose mother died at the centre. "In medical training, you're supposed to keep your distance from patients and you're supposed to stay away and not emotionally invest in your patients. She did just the exact opposite, and she left a little piece of her heart with every family that went through the residence."
Some mourners wore pink to remember her bright personality.
"She was bigger than life. She brought life, she brought smiles, she brought joy. That's why we're wearing pink – what a contrast to black. She would want us to celebrate," said Allan Van Der Wee of the West Island Palliative Care Residence.
Dellar first became interested in palliative care as a child, when a friend died. She had the idea to create a palliative care centre in the 1990s while working as a hospital social worker and nurse at the Lakeshore General Hospital. Her drive and networking skills led her to not only create the centre, but fundraise $3 million every year to care for patients.
"I found her to be extremely warm and authentic. That, I think, was part of what made people want to be part of her project," said Francis Scarpaleggia, MP for Lac-Saint-Louis. "You always felt that you were very important to what she was doing."
Dellar was named Montreal's Woman of the Year in 2007.
The,Governor General also honoured her in 2012, and in 2016, she was awarded the Meritorious Service Cross.