Care and Comfort for the Man Who Gave So Generously to Others
Jun. 12, 2023
By Emily Geris
Fred and Terri Bursch's Hospice Journey
In the Alexandria lakes area community, Fred Bursch’s name was synonymous with two things – travel and philanthropy. Fred worked closely with his father, Pete, on their family’s travel agency business. Fred took over Bursch Travel’s operations in 1977, eventually purchasing the business in 1986. There were a multitude of causes close to Fred’s heart, and he gave generously of his time, talent, and treasure to all of them. In 2019, Fred was honored by the Alexandria Area Community Foundation with the Ruth McDonald Award in Philanthropy.
Discovering the need for hospice care
Fred and Terri Bursch were married in 2008, and were proud to call Alexandria home. It was here that they continued to grow their business, give back through countless acts of community service, and spent many hours at the lake with their children and grandchildren. In recent years Fred was receiving cancer treatment and got to enjoy some time in remission. Then the day came when Fred’s doctor told him and Terri that it was time to consider hospice.
Fred was the person who was known for giving so generously to everyone else. In his time of need, Fred and Terri turned to Knute Nelson Hospice to bring peace, care, and comfort to his final days.
“I wouldn’t have thought of anybody else to provide hospice care,” Terri said. “Fred knew that I was very involved with Knute Nelson and knew how much it meant to me. Everybody I encounter at Knute Nelson has incredible care and compassion for everyone they meet.”
What does Knute Nelson Hospice do?
Knute Nelson Hospice cares for people with life-limiting illnesses. The Hospice team uses a holistic approach that includes medical, physical, emotional, social and spiritual care for patients and families. To receive the maximum benefit of all the services provided by Knute Nelson Hospice, patients are encouraged to receive care for at least 6 months. Care for their families includes bereavement support for 13 months after their loved one passes away, and the option to attend grief groups facilitated by the hospice spiritual care team. Fred received hospice care, before passing away peacefully at home on December 23, 2021.
“I can really tell you that the care given by Knute Nelson Hospice caregivers was amazing and comforting for me, for Fred, and for our family,” Terri said. “It was a good decision.”
Spending final moments together
The Knute Nelson Hospice care team provided comfort to both Fred and his family. The care team managed every aspect of Fred’s care, so that Terri and the rest of her family could focus on spending quality time with Fred and saying their goodbyes. “I think that a family should just be loving on each other in those final days and not have to worry about anything else,” Terri said. “It just brought a lot of comfort to be able to put the medical decisions into the hands of our hospice caregivers.”
Terri’s daughter was concerned about whether to have her children – ages six and four at the time – present in their grandfather’s final hours. It came down to a simple yet profound question the hospice caregiver asked: “What is the memory you want for your children? How do you want them to remember their grandfather?” This helped the family make their decision to have Fred’s grandchildren give him their last hugs the night Fred was still able to hug them. “The hospice team were open to walking us through it,” Terri said. “They have a real compassion and they’re never in a hurry, just kind and gentle with all their answers.”
A holistic hospice care experience
Of all the services available to Fred during his time with Knute Nelson Hospice – from nurse visits, to healing touch therapy, to therapeutic music – the music was by far the most beautiful and powerful.
Fred comes from a very musical family; he played the guitar and loved all kinds of music. One day, Fred’s brother and sister were visiting, and Terri had an idea. She called the hospice team and asked if there was any chance they could have a therapeutic musician come out to the house that day.
Sara Severson, Hospice’s Lead Therapeutic Musician, arrived that afternoon. “It was the most wonderful experience for all of us,” Terri said. “Fred just loved it.” Fred had a special guitar at the house, and a meaningful touch was that Sara played Fred’s guitar during her time with the family.
As Sara was singing and everyone was gathered around Fred, Terri remembers him looking out the large windows in their bedroom – out towards Lake Carlos. There were often eagles that Fred and Terri would watch out their windows. On that December day, Fred pointed out the window to the eagles he saw landing in the trees. Sara went to the window and saw three of them flying out the window. Sara smiled and said, “Well, I know what song to sing” and proceeded to sing “On Eagle’s Wings” for the family. “It was just amazing,” Terri said. “That was so special to us. Sara’s singing, the musical part of the hospice service, it was all such a gift to us.”
‘This experience has really been a gift’
The Knute Nelson Hospice team plays a unique role in a family’s life – a role that no one else can fill. “Maybe most importantly, the hospice team gives you time,” Terri said. “And what’s more important than time when it’s the end of your loved one’s time?”
Terri has expressed how grateful she feels that Knute Nelson Hospice services are available for families in our community. “When you have to say goodbye to somebody that’s so big in the community and someone who is obviously so big in my life, I think having this experience has really been a gift. I’m so thankful.”
Knowing when to consider hospice care
In Fred and Terri’s experience, they had a medical professional advise hospice care. This is not always the case, and knowing when to consider hospice care can be a difficult decision. If you are unsure whether hospice care could benefit you or a loved one, take the first step in exploring your options by taking our free online assessment to learn more about care needs and whether hospice care would be an appropriate fit. If you would like to speak with a professional from our team, please contact us at (320)335-8690 or fill out an inquiry form.
More about Terri Bursch
Terri Bursch serves as the current chair of the Knute Nelson Foundation Board of Directors; she joined the Board in 2018. Terri is also a member of the Voss Giving Society, which is a special society that honors donors who have made lifetime gifts of $10,000+ to the Knute Nelson Foundation. Terri is an advocate of monthly giving – she has been a monthly sustaining donor to the Foundation since January 2019. Fred and Terri also made a generous gift to support the Care Center Chapel Capital Campaign. Their gift, combined with many other generous donors, helped the Foundation raise over $400,000 to complete a state-of-the-art renovation to the chapel space at the Care Center.