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Prayer shawls renew comfort

Monday, November 8, 2010

When families contact Hospice Compassus, they know that time with their loved one is limited. The staff at Hospice Compassus goes out of its way to ease the patients' suffering and to offer hope and comfort to the grieving families.

One Hospice Compassus staff member, Dorothy Blinzler, takes the ministry one step further and makes prayer shawls for her clients, and oftentimes their family members as well.

"It offers warmth," Blinzler said. "It offers comfort. "This is a ministry for me. There are things that I can't do that others can. This is my way of giving back for what others did for me in the past. I try to pass it on."

The shawls are crocheted with bits and pieces of yarn that others donate to Blinzler's cause.

"I like to use variegated colors in the shawl," Blinzler said. "To me, the colors are representative of the season's of an individual's life.

"I ask the patient to make sure that they won't be offended by me giving them the shawl," Blinzler said. "Some people aren't religious and don't want to discuss their beliefs. The shawl is presented to them as a gift of comfort. Most are very accepting and put it on immediately."

When Blinzler has several shawls completed, she asks close friends and church members to pray over them. To date, over 20 shawls have been distributed to benefit clients in both Barry and Lawrence counties.

Oftentimes, the family will stay in contact with Hospice Compassus staff following the passing of their loved one. It is then that Blinzler discovers the impact the humble shawls have had on her clients.

"I had one lady walk up to me in the store and tell me that (her loved one) never let it go," Blinzler said. "She was either wearing it in bed or when sitting up in a chair. I feel like our clients realize they aren't walking this journey alone -- there is Someone there with them every step of the way.

"We also stay in contact with the family for a period of time after their loved one dies to offer what assistance we can," Blinzler continued. "It all depends on the family dynamics."

But the ministry proves to be a comfort to Blinzler, as well.

"When my brother died, that experience pushed me toward Hospice," she said. "Once I was ready to face the dying process again, I wanted to help others in their time of need. I love my job. I'm part of an all-inclusive team. Helping others is my passion and working with Hospice Compassus is something special."

The ability to add the prayer shawl ministry to her endeavors is a blessing for Blinzler.

"Shawls have, for centuries, symbolized an embrace, comfort, solace and shelter," she said. "To be able to give that to a client or one of their family members is an amazing thing."

The shawl ministry is sustained by Blinzer's personal finances and through donations of yarn from others.

For more information about the prayer shawl ministry or Hospice Compassus, call the local office at 235-9097 or stop by the office, which is located at 845 E. Highway 60 in Monett.

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