Respite House’s lasting impact: Grandmother’s stay ‘changed the direction of my professional life’

Kate Favaro understands from her work as a hospice bereavement coordinator the importance of compassion. She learned its powers as a child, first-hand from her beloved grandmother, Florence, known to most as Dutchie, and through Dutchie’s end-of-life journey at McClure Miller Respite House. 

“I think the biggest thing is to treat people with compassion,” said Kate, who pivoted to a career in hospice after her grandmother’s death because of their collective experiences at the House. 

‘Did things her way’

“Having to go through what is, hands-down, going to be the hardest part of anyone’s life, that’s the reality. It’s hard,” she observed. “Having to watch that was awful. But it was the most profound teaching experience she was ever able to give me.” 

Dutchie was “fiercely independent,” Kate recalled. “She always did things her way. She would tell you that that’s not how it needed to be done,” and throughout her life was more ready to give help than receive it. 

Adapting to changes

After arriving at Respite House, and when it became necessary, Dutchie “just got to a place where she could accept the help and compassion of other people,” Kate said. “You’re not going to learn that through a conversation; you’re going learn it watching one of the people you love most in the entire world go through this process, truly watching her adapt to that change and teaching you how to accept compassion and give it at the same time.”

“Watching her go through that, and having it be as positive as possible, truly changed the direction of my professional life.

Photo: Dutchie’s chosen family loved and supported her, regardless of their formal relationship. Surrounding Dutchie, left to right, are Kate, Pat and Kelly.