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September 28, 2015

Hospice Supports Families After a Loss
Daily Item of Lynn

By Stephanie Patel, M.D.

Watching his wife, June, battle cancer for several years, John G. was determined to help her get the very best care at the end of her life.

When she became a hospice patient, they received comprehensive care. John recalls June’s passing as pain-free, peaceful and surrounded by family.

Immediately after June died, John seemed to be coping well. With support from his family, friends and Care Dimensions staff, he felt that he had managed to get through her death and funeral fairly well.

A few months after her death, he was ready to move ahead and went to Florida, as he typically did at that time of year. However, when he returned in April to the home where June had died, the full impact of her loss hit him.

He was confused at how strong his feeling of loss was six months after losing his wife. He didn’t expect to feel this way. He thought he had processed all his grief.

An individual or family’s need for support does not end when their loved one dies. Care Dimensions has and have a comprehensive grief and bereavement program to support those in all stages of the grieving process. At its core, the program understands that people are not always affected by death the same way.

Each experience is unique and deeply personal with emotions that can run the gamut from sadness, anxiety and guilt to anger, helplessness and depression. To better attend to the needs of the grieving, our bereavement counselors are trained to help in a variety of ways.

Some people may wish to talk about their grief while others may prefer to express that grief through writing or art. No matter the manner in which grief manifests, we partner with the bereaved, offering support and comfort so that people can cope with their loss and move forward in their own time.

In John’s case, he began to isolate himself from family and beloved activities thinking that he just needed time to heal. Then one day, just before the six-month anniversary of his wife’s passing, John received a check-in call from a Care Dimensions bereavement volunteer. During the call, John learned that some of his reactions were common and that he would benefit from meeting with a bereavement counselor or by attending a support group for people who have lost their spouse/partner.

After attending just one session John began to feel better. “It gave me hope,” he said. Help can be given in many ways:

  • Support groups — Led by experienced bereavement professionals, support groups bring people together to share feelings, memories, console one another or simply observe and listen. Groups are offered throughout the year and most are specific to the type of relationship loss including spouse/partner, parent, sibling and child.
  • Workshops — Hands-on workshops on a variety of topics address specific issues and help participants find practical ways to manage grief.
  • Individual counseling — Speaking with a bereavement professional either in person or by phone allows people to express their feelings and individual needs.
  • Lending library — You may find comfort in researching and learning about your feelings and those of others.
  • Information and referral — If you need help but aren’t sure where to turn, our staff can recommend and help you access services and programs that fit your individual needs.
  • We have an extensive database with information about programs throughout the state and country. Children affected by loss often need assistance expressing and understanding their feelings.
  • Workplace and community outreach — Our community outreach and education programs teach businesses, schools and other groups how to manage and work with those who have been touched by grief. We can also provide speakers on grief-related topics.
  • Peer leader training — Our peer facilitator training program is a unique way for individuals who have participated in our bereavement program and support groups to help others through the grieving process. After an extensive training, they can lead support groups for clients who have experienced a similar loss.

Grief may come in waves during the months of a loved one’s illness and then intensify after he or she has passed away. Our licensed bereavement counselors sup­port those who has experienced a death, regardless of whether their loved one received care from Care Dimensions.

Stephanie Patel, M.D., is chief medical officer of Care Dimension. For more information, please call 855-744-5100, email grief@caredimensions.org or visit CareDimensions.org.

 

 


Since 1978, Care Dimensions has provided comprehensive and compassionate care for individuals and families dealing with life-threatening illnesses. As the non-profit leader in advanced illness care, we offer services in more than 90 communities in Eastern Massachusetts.