By Jocelyn Doll
Theresa Hamilton wants to help people die better.
“I find that I am a magnet to it and I really care and I want to talk to people about sad, happy, absolutely everything,” she said. “When you keep death natural you get to see the beauty in it.”
Hamilton works as the executive director for the Revelstoke Hospice Society and as a death care practitioner, also known as a death doula. She hosts monthly death cafes where people can ask questions and talk freely about dying.
“I want to teach as many people as I possibly can what they have within themselves, and I have seen how, when you do a lot of the work around creating quality of life for people before the end of life, or creating rituals or ceremonies or being able to create a legacy project with somebody before they have died, that always ends up helping the grieving process,” she said.
Hamilton and her partner bought a home in Revelstoke in 2016, but had spent the previous five winters in the city, going back and fourth between here and Grand Bend, Ont.
For five years she worked at the La Baguette at RMR.
“I was immersed in everyone riding and loving the ski hill. I think just being a happy face in people’s daily lives just really kind of launched me (in the community),” she said.
But eventually she felt she had to put her education to use.
Hamilton originally went to university intending to be a social worker. There she discovered thanatology, the scientific study of death and losses.
She also completed Indigenous Studies, which changed her views on dying and made her realize how much she had to unlearn.
“It is a more holistic method than we are used to,” she said.
Hamilton has been volunteering for hospice societies in every town she’s lived in.
“I really admired how small and mighty they were,” she said.
Revelstoke was no different, and with the previous director stepping out, Hamilton was tapped to take over. Though she is now paid by the society, she said she probably volunteers more now than she did before.
Hamilton also helps with Community Connection’s Food Recovery program, the Revelstoke Snowboard club and the Revelstoke Performing Arts Centre, when they are operating in-person.
“I just think that volunteering is your daily vote for democracy,” she said. “I am creating the world that I want to live in.”
Hamilton is also an activist and she supports everyone’s projects.
“Social justice anything is always on my radar because I think we have safety in numbers,” she said.
With all these causes under her belt, she often gets labelled a “Mother Theresa” type, which is something she brushes off.
“I don’t see it as being amazing the way my friends tell me it is amazing, it’s just like, ‘Yeah, but, that’s life,’” she said.
However, the namesake she is happy to claim is her grandmother Theresa, who she never met, but who also did death care work through the Catholic church.
“It’s really nice to know that I am fulfilling my ancestors roll,” Hamilton said.
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