‘The most gratifying thing I’ve ever done’

Beryl Shive finds her purpose

Created date

April 28th, 2020
It takes a village to produce the NeighborNews each month. (Back row, from left) Laura Searls, Bob Deming, Warren Shaw; (Middle, from left) Becky Diamond, Joan Bateman, Frank O’Brien, Bette Alburger, Pamela Wright; (Front) Beryl Shive.

It takes a village to produce the NeighborNews each month. (Back, left) Laura Searls, Bob Deming, Warren Shaw; (Middle, from left) Becky Diamond, Joan Bateman, Frank O’Brien, Bette Alburger, Pamela Wright; (Front) Beryl Shive. 

In one way or another, Beryl Shive connects with virtually every resident of Maris Grove

The former journalist edits the popular NeighborNews newsletter, which chronicles personalities and events within the community. But her true calling is as a bereavement minister, bringing compassion and comfort to others at their time of greatest need. 

Beryl says, “I’ve been doing this work for 32 years, and it is by far the most gratifying thing I’ve ever done. I believe it’s my purpose.”

She leads a monthly class at Maris Grove called “Make Peace With Death, Then Live,” which addresses a range of bereavement issues. In addition to consoling those who have experienced a loss, the class helps people overcome their fear of dying and rediscover the joy of living.   

No stranger to loss

Just 17 months after Beryl and her husband Tom moved into their Hastings apartment home in 2018, he passed away. They had been married for 55 years. “This was the nest that Tom and I had made,” she says wistfully, “and we certainly didn’t foresee this. But I had to accept it and find constructive ways to move forward.”

Her training and experience helped. So did the incredible support she received from the community. “[That night] neighbors sat with me, so I wasn’t alone. After it was over, the entire community reached out to me. People become your immediate friends and family in times of sadness. Here, you find people at their best. I experienced it firsthand, and I will never forget it.”

Beryl starts every day with a simple prayer: Let me do something good today. “Even if it’s just telling someone their hair looks nice, or stopping to chat in a hallway, you can make a difference,” she says. “We’re here, let’s make it the best day we can.” 

She continues, “We’re all entitled to have what I call ‘Eeyore moments,’ when we say, ‘Woe is me.’ But I believe we can choose how we’re going to live each day. I choose happiness, and the class encourages participants to do the same. It’s too easy to withdraw from life. I want them to believe that they still have so much to live for.”

An inspiring view

Beryl loves her two-bedroom, one-and-a-half-bath Hastings apartment home, with its sunny bay window and inviting living spaces. “I have the greatest view in the community, although I’m sure everyone thinks they do,” she says with a chuckle. “It’s like Rittenhouse Square in Philadelphia, the scenery, benches, and high rises by day, and the beautiful lighting at night. I can’t imagine a better place to spend your days.” 

Beryl relies on a motorized scooter, and the connected hallways between buildings make it easy to reach any destination in the community. “I’m free to go out and do what I’m on this planet to do,” she says. “I love it here, and I know it’s where I’m supposed to be.”

An easy decision

When Beryl and Tom were ready to downsize, she created a spreadsheet of all the communities within a 50-mile radius of their house in Aston, Pa. Their search ended as soon as they saw Maris Grove.

“This was by far the best value,” she says. They liked the nonprofit, Type-C continuing care retirement community, which lets residents pay for higher-level medical care only when they need it. 

They also liked the 90% refundable entrance deposit and the Resident Care Fund, which assures that no one will be asked to leave the community due to a genuine inability to pay. More information is available in the Residence and Care Agreement. “That kind of compassion fit my idea of what a senior living community should be. My mantra is, ‘It’s not about me,’ and Maris Grove reflects the value of putting others first.”

Between the NeighborNews and bereavement group, Beryl is one of the busiest people at Maris Grove. “This community is extraordinary, thanks to the people who live here and the wonderful staff,” she says. “I believe I was led here, and I’m grateful every day.”