Whenever we face loss, we experience grief, and everyone grieves differently. Reactions to the loss of a loved one can be physical, emotional, mental, spiritual and social. There is no set time for how long you will grieve.
Bereavement services can help you identify strengths, difficulties, stressors and coping skills that will help as you adapt to a significant loss in your life.
Many people think that grief and bereavement are the same thing, but they have different meanings and applications to hospice care. Grief is a normal reaction to a loss. Bereavement is the period after a loss during which you experience grief.
What are Hospice Bereavement Services?
Hospice care provides pain and symptom management for people with a terminal illness who aren’t expected to live longer than six months. But hospice services do not stop when a patient takes their last breath.
As part of the Medicare hospice benefit, family caregivers and close friends of a hospice patient have access to bereavement care from the time of the patient’s admission until 13 months following the death of the patient.
Bereavement Services activities provide meaningful, anticipatory grief support to hospice patients and their loved ones prior to the patient’s death and include:
- Phone and visit individual support
- Bereavement support groups
- Memorial services
- Referrals to appropriate therapeutic and community resources.
- Written materials (cards, letters, booklets)
- Commemorative activities (Tree Planting, Veteran Remembrances)
- Holiday grief support
- Facility/community grief education and support
Bereavement services can offer hope that those left behind can survive the loss by empowering them to find new empathy, new understandings and renewed strength.
Who Provides Hospice Bereavement Services?
Hospice bereavement services are provided by trained and experienced staff members, including chaplains, social workers and bereavement coordinators. They are part of the Amedisys hospice team with nurses, hospice aides, physicians and volunteers, and their unique role is to provide emotional and grief support, helping people navigate through the losses.
- A chaplain or spiritual counselor can support the patient and family members by talking with them about their faith and helping them find meaning and peace in a way that resonates with the patient’s beliefs and values.
- A hospice social worker provides support for family members who are dealing your diagnosis and the feelings surrounding death. They can also connect loved ones to community services.
- A bereavement coordinator completes emotional, psycho-social and spiritual assessments and coordinates the plan of care and grief support as desired by the client and family.
Bereavement services and support can also be provided in preparation for a loved one’s death, in addition to after a loved one’s passing. For those patients receiving hospice care at home, there are opportunities to say goodbye and be part of a peaceful passing.
Discussing our loved ones wishes for their death can be an important part of your own grieving process. It’s important to find out what each individual considers a good death, so their wishes can be honored. This can offer you peace and comfort that you’ve met your loved one’s needs and wishes.
It is important memorialize and honor your loved one. Rituals can support the grieving process and provide closure.
How to Access Hospice Bereavement Services
After a hospice patient dies, Amedisys hospice will immediately assign a bereavement coordinator, who conducts a bereavement assessment with family members and/or friends of the patient.
A bereavement coordinator will work with families to identify and coordinate resources to support their grieving process. Regardless of what type of bereavement support you choose; it can be instrumental in helping you find your path to healing and feel less alone.