Bereavement Support for Patients

In addition to the physical discomforts of terminal illness, many hospice patients face severe emotional strain. Approaching the end of life is a heart-wrenching process, so patients require strong social, psychological and spiritual support as they endure their final days or months.

“Our hospice program is designed to ease the grief, loneliness, regrets and fears that accompany the end of life,” noted Valerie Sanchez, director of bereavement and integrated therapies at Faith Presbyterian Hospice. “We nurture inner peace by offering patients companionship and spiritual nourishment, and we try to help them ensure nothing is left unsaid.”

To achieve this goal, Faith relies on an interdisciplinary team of caregivers. In addition to physicians and nurses, patients have access to social workers, chaplains, bereavement counselors, volunteers and many other support resources. Each team member brings unique skills to help patients navigate life and death’s uncertainties more smoothly.

“We’re here for them every step of the way during this final chapter,” said Sanchez. “Uplifting their spirits is key, and our team members have the training and experience necessary to best approach this sensitive subject.”

Preserving special memories and leaving a meaningful legacy for loved ones are also crucial needs for hospice patients. Faith helps take care of these needs through its Memory Making and Legacy Building Program, which offers patients various avenues for self-reflection. Among them are:

  • Life Reviews – Faith produces video and audio recordings of patients’ personal stories, memories and messages as keepsakes for their loved ones.
  • Faithful Hands – Patients have the option to create side-by-side paper prints or plaster cast sculptures while holding hands with a loved one. These simple, intimate moments can be cherished for years.

“It all begins with personal conversations with patients,” explained Sanchez. “We talk to them about important events such as graduations and weddings, and even use pictures to help them open up about their lives. Patients are usually willing to share with us the many wonderful memories they cherish.”

Every hospice patient is unique, and Faith Presbyterian Hospice is always cognizant of family dynamics, age, religion, educational and professional backgrounds, and other key attributes while going through this process.

Sanchez added, “Time is one of the most valuable assets we have, and we want to make each of those moments matter. Our goal is to help our patients understand and accept a difficult situation. From there, we can start building a record that will be treasured by those they leave behind.”