Assisi Hospice

A Story of Forgiveness and Reconciliation

Li Shan* had been lingering outside a room in Assisi Hospice’s inpatient ward. Numerous times, she would walk right up to the door, but stop in hesitation. Many thoughts flashed through her mind – Should she go in? Would he even recognise her? They had not met for over 20 years.

Our nurse noticed Li Shan outside the room of Mr Tan*, and alerted our social worker, Calista. When Calista approached her, she discovered that she was Mr Tan’s ex-wife, whom we were trying to get in touch with.

67 year-old Mr Tan was diagnosed with a rare tumour behind his abdominal area (retroperitoneal liposarcoma), and was admitted to Assisi Hospice in Jun 2023. He had been divorced for over 20 years, and was working as a cleaner and staying in a 1-room rental flat before admission. When he came under our care, he expressed his wish to reconnect with his ex-wife Li Shan and his only son. Over the years, he went to the church that the family used to worship together on several occasions and saw her from afar, but did not have the courage to approach her.

Our Clinical Pastoral Care staff approached the church’s pastor, who knew the family. The pastor informed Li Shan about Mr Tan’s condition, and that he had been admitted to Assisi Hospice.

As Li Shan shared with Calista about the circumstances she faced leading up to the divorce, she broke down and cried. Mr Tan struggled with gambling and substance abuse, which eventually led to her leaving the marriage in the interest of their child.

Li Shan shared with Calista.

Calista listened patiently and offered Li Shan the emotional support she needed. With her company, Li Shan mustered up her courage and went into the room. Though she was wearing a mask, Mr Tan recognised her immediately. He stretched out his hand, and she rushed to hold it. They started to sob and could not utter a word. After a long while, he finally mustered up enough strength for the two words, in between sobs –

Still in tears, she replied softly,

After that day, Li Shan continued to visit. Mr Tan deteriorated rapidly, and passed on peacefully in July 2023. Our volunteers from the No One Dies Alone programme supported the family by keeping vigil at Mr Tan’s side during his final moments. In addition to Assisi’s substantial subsidies supported by donations, our social worker also helped to apply for Medifund to pay for his medical bill, and arranged a pro bono funeral for him.

At Assisi Hospice, our patients come to us not only for medical care. Many times, there are other wounds and needs. Support our work as we strive to meet our patients’ needs at the most vulnerable time in their lives.

*Names have been changed

Assisi Fun Day 2024, our biggest fundraising event of the year, is a meaningful event where you can experience the kampung spirit and show your support for our patients. Enjoy a fun-filled day of food, games and activities put together by staff and volunteers from all walks of life, with more than 100 food and game stalls which will appeal to all ages. Every dollar spent will go towards providing care for patients with terminal illnesses. Your support will enable patients like Mr Tan to receive the care and comfort that they need.

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