About Us

Nelson End of Life Society

If you have landed here, chances are you are looking for help with your own death or for someone you care about. You’re in the right place.
This non-profit society was set up specifically to provide information to empower and inspire our community to reclaim death-care by participating in it. We offer resources to guide and support you through the entire transition process until burial or cremation.
Caring for our own dying can be an extraordinary, moving and sacred experience that can reclaim the beauty, peace and healing both for ourselves and for those we love.

Sandy Joyce

As a long time volunteer with Hospice, Sandy has been present with the dying and their families as they transition. But over the years, she realized that very rarely do families choose to actively engage with death. It has been taken out of our hands and hidden away.

As a trained death doula, Sandy recognized that there is a growing movement to take back death care. Nelson End of Life Society (NELS) was born from a desire to provide options and alternatives within the community to traditional funerals and burials.

Deathcare has become a passion in Sandy’s life. Within the business community, she is the managing partner of a digital marketing company that services the finance sector. Sandra has provided leadership and served on the boards of a number of non-profit organizations committed to environmental issues and community development.

Joe Hetherington

Joe experiences a personal relationship with death by currently being a hospice volunteer. She believes that the end of life is one of our most important times on this earth. Being involved with NELS gives her an opportunity to support her community in learning how to deal with the bodies of our loved ones by taking back the control of the funeral and burial process.

After completing a B.Ed degree at UBC Joe taught high school in Vancouver. Getting tired of bells dictating her life, she retired from teaching and became an astrologer. She has had a successful astrology practice for the last 42 years.

She moved to the Kootenays 37 years ago and eventually became one of the founding members of MAA (Estonian for land) which is an intentional land co-op community in the mountains in Blewett. After living on MAA for 18 years she hung up her chainsaw and shovel and retired to the urban lifestyle of Nelson.

Lily Mayall

Lily joined the Board of NELS to help facilitate a paradigm shift in the culture of death in our community. For many years she worked in the medical establishment in palliative care, hospice and energy healing.

As a birth doula and a death doula, Lily provides options and opportunities to make the transitional passages personal, meaningful and transformative. She achieves this by being sensitive to the desires and wishes of all concerned .

Lily sees her role as being supportive physically, emotionally and spiritually in the journey of dying. Along with her love of life, she hopes to personally embrace the adventure of dying.

Nancy Radonich

Nancy has lived in this community since 1977 and worked as a Children’s Librarian at the Nelson Public Library for 34 years. She has watched a multitude of children grow up, raised her own 4 children, and now participates eagerly in caring for her 3 grandchildren.

The love and care which this community has shown Nancy, as she struggled to cope with the sudden deaths of her two children, has led her to become involved in the Nelson End of Life Society. She strongly believes it is time to give back to the community by helping walk people through this difficult period of their lives – to support, hold and listen to those left behind.

Nancy is currently involved with the Threshold Choir, training as a Death Doula and working part-time at a local florist. She loves hiking in the wilderness, sitting on a mountain top in the sun, planting flowers, skiing in the winter and reading anything and everything.

Debbie Gerrits

Debbie’s interest in death started when she was a teenager, always feeling connected to the ‘other side’. That interest came more into focus as she walked the path with both her parents as they passed. It was after she retired that she was able to pursue her Death Doula and Hospice training and dedicate her time to working with the dying.

With an administrative background, Debbie worked as a legal assistant, executive assistant and conference planner. She is highly qualified and offers people gentle guidance while making sure their affairs are in order leaving no unfinished business.

Debbie also has a passion for the outdoors – skiing, biking, and hiking. And in her quiet moments enjoying meditative basket weaving.


Profile portraits by Kathryn Gardner – KDG Photography

Kootenay Lake image by Cathie Douglas