Hospice

When Strangers Meet: Grief Support Groups

grief support group

They will see themselves as strangers. But are they?

Less than a week after posting these words, I will begin another first session of a grief support group for those who have experienced the death of a partner or spouse. I’ve led nearly thirty groups since starting work at a hospice in 2012. (Which truthfully means I’m really not an expert, and probably wouldn’t be even if I’d facilitated twice that many groups.)

There will be men and women. They will be stoic. Uncomfortable. Suspicious. Cautious. A few will cry. A few will fight to hold back tears. Though I don’t ask them to say much in the opening gathering, several will be articulate with their responses. Others might barely manage to mumble their names. Some will remain as still as slabs of granite, while others may be in constant motion (feet tapping, hands gesturing, fiddling with a purse). But I predict everyone will focus on what I say, with several hoping I’ll voice some “magic words” to make them quickly feel better. If so, they will be disappointed. Read More →

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A Fancy Hospice Word for Fainting

Private Ryan

From “Saving Private Ryan” – the mother learns the worst news about her sons

Maybe you’ve seen it in films.

A fella learns he has become a father. And it’s always better if it’s a brawny guy, as tough as railroad spikes, when this good news levels him. He faints!

A smart-ass rookie, joining the police in defiance of her family’s wishes, stands by the coroner when the murder victim’s body is sliced open. It’s the cop’s first autopsy. She faints!

Or there’s the damsel in distress, the parent at the doorstep hearing horrible news during World War II about a son, the desperate attorney who hasn’t eaten for days while preparing for the “big case.” At a critical moment, with a soundtrack swelling and the light angling to highlight an anguished face, our hero—or the object of our hero’s affection—keels over.

Someone faints! Read More →

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Hospice’s Two for One

two for oneBack when working as a hospice chaplain, one of the newer social worker suggested that we visit together. We shared various patients as part of their hospice “team.” I recall that two of those patients lived a long and winding drive from our office. Carpooling was a good use of resources. Additionally, the families wouldn’t be interrupted by multiple phone calls from multiple staff trying to schedule multiple visits.

Everyone loves more phones calls and visits, right?

On the way there, I said, “You know, this does defeat part of our impact.”

“What do you mean?” the social worker asked.

“We won’t get much of a chance for one-on-one encounters. A lot of what we do is based on being with the patient or family member. Having another person around changes that.”

“Oh,” was mostly what she replied. She was young. She was new. On we drove, excellent stewards of hospice resources. Read More →

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