Coping with the loss of a loved one is a particularly difficult situation. Faith Presbyterian Hospice not only provides social, psychological and spiritual support for patients, but also for family members of all ages.
“A lot of our support is educational in nature,” explains Valerie Sanchez, director of bereavement and integrated therapies at Faith. “We provide the comfort and information necessary for people struggling with anticipatory grief and the what ifs of losing someone they love. We’re also there for them as they adjust to life without their loved ones.”
Relationship building is a key component to the success of the bereavement program at Faith. Team members work tirelessly to establish trust with patients’ families and their loved ones through constant communication and transparency.
“Being straightforward and getting to know a patient’s family and inner circle on a personal level goes a long way,” says Sanchez. “We minimize regrets and maximize positive experiences by keeping them fully informed throughout the process and helping them ensure nothing is left unsaid. Once that fateful day comes, they’re open to communicating with us and taking advantage of the programs we have in place to help them through the mourning period.”
Some of these programs include:
- Child and Family Bereavement – Loss poses unique challenges when children or grandchildren are involved. This program uses play therapy and music to help young people understand and manage grief. Support is provided by an interdisciplinary team of child life specialists, social workers and bereavement coordinators.
- Camp Faith – Every August and December, Faith offers a day camp where surviving family members can explore creative ways of overcoming grief.
- Faith and Grief Groups – Family members and loved ones meet periodically for discussions on how to best cope with grief in their day-to-day lives. Bonding with people in similar predicaments can help alleviate feelings of loneliness and isolation.
“The first year without someone is usually the hardest, especially as people commemorate anniversaries, birthdays and holidays,” explains Sanchez. “We reach out to them every two months just to check on how they’re doing and to offer comfort and support whenever needed.”
Sanchez notes that there’s no time limit on grief, and major life changes or the loss of additional loved ones can trigger memories and grief reactions. People are encouraged to reach out to Faith’s bereavement support team or to attend its support groups whenever needed, no matter how much time has passed.
“Grief doesn’t happen in nice, orderly phases or stages, and it doesn’t necessarily go away,” adds Sanchez. “The level of intensity and emotion fluctuates, and we’re always there for you whenever it gets overwhelming.”