MARQUETTE, Mich. (WJMN) – Staff from U.P. Home Health & Hospice and Lake Superior Life Care & Hospice came together Monday to hold the Marquette County Bells for Hospice bell ringing at Marquette Commons.

The event, which is held in conjunction with National Bells for Hospice, paid respect to those lost in hospice care and recognized their families with a ceremony featuring singing in addition to bell ringing. Local church bells were rung in addition to the handbells provided by local handbell choirs.

The public event represents a way for families who’ve lived through having a family member in hospice care to celebrate their loved ones and commune with others who’ve endured a similar experience.

“Last year was really one of the only years that we can remember that we didn’t because of the pandemic,” said Kori Tossava, Director of Community Services for U.P. Home Health & Hospice. “And so we have been finding that there are so many people who have been holding onto grief over the span of the last eighteen months. Maybe they’ve lost people during that time, or maybe they’re just coming out of it right now, so this has just been an opportunity for a number of people to get together and just feel like they have the opportunity to remember those that they’ve lost.”

In addition to honoring those who have passed away, events like these are crucial in spreading awareness of what hospice care is and its importance for families feeling the burden of an ill family member.

“Even though hospice has been around for well over forty years, there’s still a lot of things that people don’t know,” said Jennifer Voegtline, CEO for Lake Superior Life Care & Hospice. “It’s an entire team that works with people to provide social work, aides, nurses, physicians, volunteers, bereavement, and I think our community thinks it’s just for the last few days of life, when anyone with a life-limiting diagnosis of six months or less can be eligible for hospice. People often get better when they’re in hospice. They’re more comfortable, their symptoms are managed, and they have this entire team that really wraps their arms around the family, not just the patient.”