Okanagan woman helps senior along the journey

Cindy Bertrand Larson goes throughout the Okanagan to help seniors along their end-of-life journey

Walking the end-of-life path with those transitioning to the “other side” has become Cindy Bertrand Larson’s life calling.

In particular, the Vernon woman now helps seniors, whose biggest worries are about being a burden to others and dying in pain—alone.

To that end, she helps replace those fears with feelings of warmth, welcoming and the joy of a new beginning, as well as showing them how to get the most out of their life now, based on the simple premise: you’re never too old.

Bertrand Larson, 60, a former Los Angeles model and actress—with what she says are the scars to prove it—has shared her love with countless people through her palliative work and a little puppet show she put together for seniors she calls, Growing Old Ain’t for Sissies.

Cindy Bertrand Larson and her grandma and grandpa puppets share some smiles with Eva Matyas at The Hamlets during her presentation of Growing Old Ain’t for Sissies. (Mark Brett – Western News)

“I tell them (seniors) you’re not going to die in pain alone because there are people who love you. We’re here to be your support and at that time the people who have no families burst into tears because they know there really is someone who loves them,” said Bertrand Larson, who travels throughout the Okanagan to deliver her message of hope, including a stop last week at The Hamlets at Penticton.

“I tell them that you don’t need to be afraid, you’re in good hands, that you are in loving hands.

“I think what I really do, is I’m a facilitator where people become comfortable with those end-of-life fears and common complaints because they know they’re not alone.”

READ MORE: Bereavement program for kids helping widowed parents

In the past two decades Bertrand Larson, who is also the author of the book, End of Life Stories: Tips and tools for the soul’s journey home, has spent the final moments with many people who have departed, including her dad.

“When my father was passing away, we could feel his essence, what we would call his soul or spirit or whatever it is, we could feel it lifting off his body. We could feel it, all of us,” she recalled of that time.

“It was moving, it didn’t leave quickly but it knew where it was going.”

She has also spoken with many people about their near-death experiences, which she has also written about and shared at her workshops.

That included one 94-year-old man who had those experiences not once but twice, both times on the operating table.

“The first time he said it was such a beautiful experience. He said ‘something loving is coming for me,’ so there is something loving out there after we leave our body,” said Bertrand Larson.

The second time was shortly after the man got married at the age of 90 and when his heart once again stopped during surgery.

“He was not a particularly religious fellow but he said God was coming for him and the love was so beautiful and that ‘all I (wanted) to do (was) fall into it and become part of it,’” she said.

When Bertrand Larson asked him why he didn’t, the man replied that he could hear his wife in the waiting room praying and he turned around.

READ MORE: Grief resource for South Okanagan children is one-of-a-kind

Often, as in the case of a recent workshop at The Hamlets, there are people who speak up afterwards about having similar experiences.

The puppets, Grandpa, who is wearing his incontinence underwear on the outside of his clothes and his wife Grandma, help break the ice about what can be sensitive, embarrassing and hurtful subjects.

“People laugh because they are looking at their grandparents, not themselves, and they make them laugh,” said Bertrand Larson.

Grandma and Grandpa are the main characters in Cindy Bertrand Larson’s workshop for seniors called Growing Old Ain’t for Sissies. (Mark Brett – Western News)

“They see that child-like spark of innocence and it takes the worry away and we then have access to their subconscious minds and we can plant the seeds that, you don’t need to be afraid, you’re in loving hands.”

Her years of work have taught Bertrand Larson some very valuable life lessons of her own.

“As we live, we develop so many layers but we’re happiest when we love one another. We’re happiest when we’re in a state of appreciation for what we have and those are the basic things like food shelter and belonging,” she said.

“What this has taught us is that at the end of life the thing people want most is the simple joys, seeing a hummingbird, the sun shining in a certain way, the raindrops on a window. And I’ve stopped wanting.

“I don’t fear death now, and I will be caring for people until the end of my own time.”


 

@PentictonNews
newstips@pentictonwesternnews.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.


 MarkBrett
Send Mark Brett an email.
Like the Western News on Facebook.
Follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

COVID-19: SD67 approves budget reductions

Staff positions will be cut to balance budget

COVID-19: Pre-recorded graduation events planned for students in School District 67

Graduates from Penticton Secondary have created petition to urge postponement of grad ceremonies

COVID-19: SD67 plans restart program for Penticton, Summerland students

District following provincial guidelines as students return to classrooms on June 1

Petition seeks to clean up Okanagan forests ‘carpeted’ with shotgun shells

Penticton man says making shot-gun shells refundable would create cleaner forests

Eco-friendly bus service seeks to add Kelowna to Osoyoos route

Bus would stop in Kelowna, West Kelowna, Peachland, Summerland, Penticton, Kaledan, Oliver, Osoyoos

Video: Okanagan mayors encourage water conservation this summer

Water conservation this summer could be more important than ever, experts say

Enderby’s drive-in not safe from top doc’s 50-car limit

Starlight Drive-In opened with reduced capacity, COVID-19 safety measures in place

Parking lot patios a go in Vernon

Council votes in favour of allowing businesses to expand commercial space into on-street parking spots

Shuswap cabin owner disputes request to stay home in Alberta

Alberta resident redrafts response to CSRD request to stay home

Kelowna’s main drag will be closed to vehicles this summer

Kelowna’s Bernard Avenue will be a pedestrian-only roadway from June 29 through the Labour Day long weekend

Vernon gym knocked out by COVID-19

9Round Fitness in Vernon Square Mall owners announce permanent closure of facility

Snapshot: Distanced dancing in Salmon Arm

Friends use picnic shelter at Blackburn Park for safe practice

Kelowna’s Homebase Baseball Tournament cancelled

A live auction will still take place to raise funds for Joeanna’s House

Kelowna General Hospital Foundation launches fundraising initiative to support local health care

The initiative also highlights workers at Kelowna General Hospital

Most Read