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History of Chaplain and Grief/Bereavement Services

It’s National Hospice & Palliative Care Awareness Month

Today we’re celebrating our Hospice Chaplains and Grief/Bereavement Services!


History of Chaplain Services

While other skilled care professionals tend to a patient’s physical and psycho social needs, the care of the spirit rests with a compassionate and highly-skilled member of the hospice team — the hospice chaplain.

The spirit, like the mind, body, and emotions, is a natural dimension of every person. In the hospice and palliative care setting, the spirit and spirituality are not defined within the context of a specific religion and its doctrines, but instead as the awareness of one’s relationship with the world, humanity, and one’s overall sense of meaning and purpose.

The role of a hospice chaplain is crucial, as many people turn toward spirituality for comfort at the end of life, and the expert spiritual care and counsel that a chaplain provides is paramount in helping patients — and the caregivers, family, and friends who love them — find peace.

Chaplains do not seek to convert patients or bring them into the fold of a specific religion, but to instead meet the patient where they are on their spiritual journey and help the patient discover renewed meaning and spiritual peace.

Chaplains, as spiritual experts, understand the intimate relationships between religion, spirituality, and culture, and how those aspects of a patient’s life shapes their relationship with the end-of-life journey.

In addition to the support and care hospice chaplains provide patients, caregivers, and families, they also assist the hospice care team in a myriad of ways. From acting as a spiritual support for the team, to making informed improvements to the care plan, hospice chaplains play a crucial role in helping the care team provide the utmost in patient-centered care.

Source – https://crhcf.org/Blog/what-is-a-hospice-chaplain/


History of Grief/Bereavement Services

Grief counselors believe that everyone experiences and expresses grief in their own way, often shaped by culture. They believe that it is not uncommon for a person to withdraw from their friends and family and feel helpless; some might be angry and want to take action. Some may laugh.

Grief counseling becomes necessary when a person is so disabled by their grief and so overwhelmed by their loss, that their normal coping processes are disabled or shut down. Grief counseling facilitates expression of emotion and thought about the loss, including their feeling sad, anxious, angry, lonely, guilty, relieved, isolated, confused, or numb.

“The grief counselor acts as a fellow traveler [with the bereaved] rather than consultant, sharing the uncertainties of the journey, and walking alongside, rather than leading the grieving individual along the unpredictable road toward a new adaptation.” (Neimeyer 1998, p. 200)

Treatment options include individual, couple, and family grief counseling or grief therapy, and/or group counseling. Sessions are approximately one hour in length, or longer for individual sessions.

Counseling and therapy techniques include art and music therapy, meditation, creation of personalized rituals, bibliotherapy, journaling, communication with the deceased (through writing, conversations, etc.), bringing in photos or possessions that belonged to the person who has died, role playing, bearing witness to the story of the loved one, confiding in intimates, and participating in support groups.

Grief counseling and grief therapy are metaphorically, learning to dance. Each person looks at the world through a different set of lenses, and as a result, one’s dances, steps, upbringing, hopes, dreams, and healing are dependent on many factors.

Source – adapted from Wikipedia https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grief_counseling

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