Wednesday’s Warrior: Danbury teen helps hospice patients and their families in more ways than one

Wednesday's Warrior

(WTNH) — From the very beginning, until the very end, Irelynn Janell’s devotion to her father never faded.

My dad, Joe Janell, unfortunately, lost his battle with esophageal cancer at 48 years old. One of the last things he said to me is that he wanted to be remembered as someone who always helped other people,” said Irelynn Janell of Danbury.

This was in November 2019. Like father, like daughter, Irleynn is living out those final wishes by helping families who have loved ones in hospice care.

“When the pandemic hit that’s when I really said you know a lot of these families are struggling even more now,” said Irelynn.

That’s when she launched her program, At the Heart of Hospice, Helping Families Cope.

“I was able to create my online support group as well as my journal. It’s called, ‘A Light for the Journey,’ where I share my own personal story and I have some pages for families to journal their grieving experiences.”

In a world of Covid-19, being able to hold your loved one’s hand during their last moments was ripped away from so many.  “It makes me so incredibly sad to think that some of these families can’t be there.”

Helping them be there in some capacity, Irelynn started collecting iPads. This way, families could talk, share a smile, or in some cases, say their final goodbyes.

“I was lucky enough to be at my dads bedside when he eventually passed away.” Said Irelynn

At just 17 years young, Irelynn understands that even though it’s incredibly difficult, a final farewell is special.

“I know a lot of restrictions are lifted now I do hope that families are able to connect with their loved ones in hospice care the way I was able to.”

Irelynn is now a CNA and still makes gift baskets for hospice centers.

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