Bereavement Professional

  • 1.  Employee Support

    Posted 06-07-2023 10:45 AM
    Edited by Misty King 06-07-2023 10:47 AM

    Hi! Our bereavement team along with social workers and chaplains were given the goal of coming up with more, or different options to support our employees. I searched in the other discussions and found some ideas, but the most recent is from 2015 so I'm hoping to find more options. 

    In the past, we have offered a Caring and Sharing group monthly that was for nurses and aides to come and talk. It was very informal, but well attended and seemed to help them process their grief along with build moral and relationships. This was VERY supported by their supervisor and while not mandatory, was STRONGLY encouraged. Once a new supervisor came into the picture and it wasn't encouraged, people stopped coming. 

    Currently, if a staff member or volunteer has a loss we mail them a book and some literature on grief and remind them that our LPCs are available for them as well as all of our bereavement support groups. The supervisors for our inpatient center set up a group with their aides to come to with our LPC. They came for 2 times then didn't come again. Our current situation has been going on since right before COVID and we are seeing the negative impact on our staff of them not processing at all. A lot of burnout, frustration, poor moral, one of our seasoned admissions nurses lost his dad and had to take FMLA for 3 months. He said "It felt like I grieved for every hospice patient I've had in the last 23 years along with my father". He did speak with our LPC, but that was only when he was unable to function really. 

    So much questions is, what do you do and what is your process for helping staff process not only personal deaths, but the everyday deaths that we encounter in our work? And How do you encourage participation or try to engage them in this process? 

    Thanks for all that you guys do!

    Misty King, LCSW

    Bereavement Program Coordinator

    Hospice of Wichita Falls

  • 2.  RE: Employee Support

    Posted 06-08-2023 09:32 AM
    Edited by Callie Weber 06-08-2023 09:33 AM


    I think you are asking some really good questions.  It is always hard for our staff not only to balance personal losses but all the added stress and loss for the past few years.  It is a difficult role to be in hospice and experience loss on a regular basis.  With added personal losses and stress, it can become difficult.  I can speak to a few things that we have tried over the years to provide support:

    1. First and foremost, I am a big believer in EAP and encouraging employees to utilize these programs.  Getting additional support and it being encouraged by the organization makes a huge difference.  Remind folks that it is available and the importance of getting that 1:1 support that they need to be the best version of themselves. Remind folks at team meetings that it is available and the more we talk about it we can help reduce the stigma of getting additional support.
    2. We typically do a few agency wide services annually to recognize colleague loss.  We have done them differently both virtually as well as in person.  We currently have a committee of social workers, chaplains and bereavement counselors who plans services. These can be so helpful to recognize our patient loss but also our personal loss.  Colleagues can be invited to share the first names of folks that they cared for and are grieving.  It gives them a space to hold and there is something to the recognition by the hospice agency that loss is ongoing in our roles.
    3. We have set up spaces in our various buildings to recognize loss at different points through the year.  It could be a place where they can come light a candle, share a special memory, or write a message about their loss.  Sometimes the more formal services don't speak to some people who are more private and they like the drop in sort of spaces where they can reflect and share.  Again, the visible signs of validating their losses can be most helpful. 

    Hoping some of these ideas are helpful!  

    Callie Weber

    Manager of Tidewell Grief Care, Empath Health

  • 3.  RE: Employee Support

    Posted 06-09-2023 02:08 PM
    As a chaplain and bereavement coordinator, I have had the opportunity to lead weekly bereavement support with my immediate team. We set aside extra time one day a week during our morning meeting to remember our patients who died during the previous week and celebrate all they taught us. (We also offered those who had personal loss to share if they were comfortable doing so.) I always started with a few words of reflection then read the name of each deceased patient giving the team time to talk about that patient. I have also done this during IDT when discussing a patient death but that is if the office/caseload is smaller and time allows. The feedback received about these opportunities has always been very positive and many team members express feeling more well-balanced in their emotional and spiritual health.


  • 4.  RE: Employee Support

    Posted 06-08-2023 02:45 PM

    During the pandemic, and since then, our bereavement counselors have also assumed a more active role in supporting their hospice teams. Each team is different with what team building, supportive activities they may appreciate. Sometimes, it's inviting sharing about a particularly rewarding patient/family intervention. We celebrate birthdays, upcoming weddings, babies, Nurse's Week, Social Work month,etc by sharing what they appreciate about their co-workers. If teams are able to meet in person, there is often food. Some meet up at a park or ice cream place in the area their team covers. When new staff are starting, we try various get to know you activities- sharing 2 truths and a lie about yourself, talk about your first job, a famous person or entertainer you saw. Administration has been very supportive of anything we want to offer staff to build and strengthen connections. So much of that has suffered from the remote work of the pandemic and staff not seeing each other. I'm also interested in hearing others' ideas.




    Elaine Ostrum MSW, LCSW, CT



    Pathways Center for Grief & Loss

    Hospice & Community Care

    Phone (717) 391-2413

    Fax (717) 735-9667



    New Picture (3)


    For Online Grief Education and Support

    Click  here: Composing Life Out of Loss






    This message and any attachments are private and may be privileged. If you are not the intended recipient, please notify Hospice and Community Care by replying to this message or by sending an e-mail to and destroy all copies of this message and any attachments. Thank you. -33-