The Foundation supports the Hospice Foundation of America, a not-for-profit organization dedicated to assisting those who cope either personally or professionally with terminal illness, death and the process of grief. The Foundation for End-of-Life Care assists the Hospice Foundation of America in implementing specific programs, including clergy-to-clergy services, grief counseling activities and the National Bereavement Teleconference. This annual event links more than 100,000 clergy members, social workers, hospice caregivers and other end-of-life professionals and volunteers across the United States to share successful strategies for supporting the journey of dying patients and their loved ones.
A Message About Grieving
Through your hospice experience, you know better than most that coping with the loss of a loved one can be a difficult and prolonged challenge. No one can prepare you mentally or physically for the tough times awaiting you. More importantly, no one can teach you what it feels like to grieve.
Having cared for terminally ill patients and families for more than 20 years, we are familiar with the difficulties families face when they lose someone dear to them.
We understand that grief is a normal reaction to the loss of someone, and that each of you handles grief in your own way. Some of you may grow stronger from your experiences of grief. Initially, however, most family members are unprepared for the overwhelming reaction they have to a major loss.
We often rely on family, friends and healthcare professionals for support during this difficult time and receive insufficient assistance. What may be of real help in your grieving process is relevant information and support, offered in a manner and at a time that fits your individual needs and preferences.
The Foundation for End-of-Life Care is proud to be a supporter of education that will teach healthcare professionals how to help bereaved loved ones transform painful losses into personal growth. For example, the Foundation supports the Hospice Foundation of America’s annual Living With Grief bereavement teleconference.
The Foundation for End-of-Life Care recognizes the value in teaching professionals how to assist families in responding to the challenges and opportunities of caregiving. We also acknowledge the complexities of the social, cultural, spiritual, emotional and economic issues involved in living and dying. We are confident that the ideas and issues explored at these teleconferences will have a lasting impact on the lives of family caregivers and the professionals who serve them.
Tips on Grieving
The Foundation has launched its own efforts to assist patients and families with the grieving process. Here are some recommended tips on dealing with grief:
- Talk to a caring pastor, counselor or friend who’s experienced a similar loss.
- Join a bereavement support group.
- Read books on grief.
- Write letters to the person you have lost to express your feelings or as a way of saying good-bye.
- Keep a journal as a record of your own journey of grief.
- Create a memorial for the person who died: plant a tree, create a memory book or photo album. Children often like to collect items for a memento box.
- Commemorate the person you lost on special days, such as birthdays, holidays and anniversaries. Light a candle, play a song and talk about your loved one.
- Do something special for yourself.
For more information on local bereavement groups, please contact your local hospice.