Loss and grief are fundamental to human life. The consequences of the loss of a loved one will vary for each individual, but can range from mental and physical health problems, insomnia, substance misuse, depression, depressed immune function, hypertension, cardiac problems, and work and social impairment.
What is Grief? Grief is a normal response to change and the death of a loved one is a major change in our lives. Grief elicits a variety of responses, which can be physical, emotional, spiritual, and psychological in nature. These responses are very unique to each person.
Why Bereavement Care? Society does not often allow individuals enough time to mourn their losses and many people do not have a clear concept of what grief is. This combination can leave the griever at a loss to understand the emotions and reactions that follow the death of a loved one. It has been shown that education about grief and support during the mourning period can help answer emotional questions before they become problematic.
Grief intervention is important and effective for bereaved individuals. Bereavement support helps individuals:
- Connect with their family and community of care
- Draw upon religious and spiritual beliefs and practices
- Identify internal and external strengths and resources
- Draw upon the experience and support of other bereaved individuals
- Gain comfort from talking or thinking about the deceased
- Identify and reinforce their coping skills and positive achievements
- Regain their family and community as sources of social support
Hospice’s Bereavement Services begins with anticipatory grief and continues following the death of a loved one. Anticipatory grief is the grief reaction that occurs in anticipation of an impending loss. Anticipatory grief is experienced by both the families and loved ones of a dying individual and is also experienced by the dying individual as well. Aspects of anticipatory grief include depression, heightened concern for the dying person, rehearsal of the death, and attempts to adjust to the consequences of death. Anticipatory grief provides the family and the patient with time to gradually absorb the reality of the loss. Individuals are able to complete unfinished business with the dying person.
Hospice ensures that the bereavement services reflect the needs of each individual bereaved person.
Bereavement support services include two types of activities:
- universal activities, targeted to all bereaved individuals
- specialized bereavement support activities, targeted to those individuals who are in need of additional support
“You are very special people and the work you do is so very needed when people are faced with the end of a life that is so dear. You help the patient face it with dignity and their loved ones with a special environment and compassion.”
Hospice Memorial Services
Hospice holds Memorial Services twice a year to remember patients who Hospice has cared for who passed away during the previous six months. Due to COVID-19, those public services have not been able to be held. However, Hospice employees have continued to gather for memorial services that are presented live on the Hospice Facebook page, www.Facebook.com/hospiceottumwa **An example of this special service can be viewed by clicking here, youtu.be/inN20vr6BOI. **
Hospice Bereavement Activities and Support Groups
Due to COVID-19, Hospice’s Support Groups are currently not formally meeting. However, it is hoped that activities will resume in the not-too-distant future.
- Care Notes – Hospice family members are mailed “Care Notes” about grief and the grief process every other month.
- Men’s Coffee Support Group – This group is primarily for men who are widowed and meets every Tuesday at 8:00 a.m. at Riverside Family Restaurant, 1317 E. Mary Street in Ottumwa. The group provides a great place to meet other men who have experienced a similar loss. Come for coffee or breakfast and to talk.
- Walk and Talk Support Group – This group is open to anyone who is grieving. Bereavement is one of life’s most stressful events. To keep stress from building up and to increase your body’s production of endorphins (brain chemicals that enhance feelings of well-being), you need to do some “body work.” Walking is one of the easiest forms of exercise that helps fight depression and brings increased health benefits. The group meets every Thursday at 9:00 a.m. in front of the former JC Penney store at Quincy Place Mall in Ottumwa. After walking, refreshment time at South Hy-Vee provides a further opportunity for socializing.
- Grief Education/Support Group – This is a group for men and women that meets multiple times. Sessions are planned twice a year. This educational/support group is designed for people desiring special support and information about the grief process. Registration information will be sent prior to the start of the group.
- Evening Supper Group – This is a monthly group that is open to anyone who is grieving and offers an opportunity to socialize with others who are also mourning. This group meets on the third Monday of each month at 5:00 p.m. at Pizza Ranch in Ottumwa. In the event of questionable weather, call (641) 682-0684 to see if the group is meeting.
- Bereavement Assistance – One-on-one supportive assistance is offered to anyone experiencing difficulties dealing with grief. Please call Hospice at (641) 682-0684 for more information.
- Bereavement Activity Groups – These groups are held 6 times a year providing support and information about the grieving process. They encourage individuals to review and reflect on the experience of loss through hands-on activities.
Medicare requires that Hospice provide 13 months of bereavement care to the families whom we have served. In order to provide this service, a portion of the bereavement services program is funded by a grant from the United Way of Wapello County. The remainder of the program is funded by donations and memorials left to Hospice. There is no charge for our bereavement support programs.