Today's entry is written by Agrace HospiceCare grief counselor Fran Coan-Meredith. In 2011, Agrace HospiceCare provided grief services to approximately 6,500 children and adults throughout its service area. Agrace has been offering support to businesses and schools in Rock County since before 2000.
Last week’s news of the devastating and senseless violence in Aurora, Colorado was difficult for people to hear. While it happened nearly 1,000 miles away from our community, the grief that follows this type of sudden tragedy often expands across the entire country, affecting us even though we did not experience the event personally.
Traumatic events like what happened in Aurora can trigger emotions in people who might have had recent losses, past losses or their own personal traumas. Highly publicized tragedies can cause feelings of fear, sadness and hopelessness in society and it is important that people have the support necessary to help them find healthy ways to cope with their reaction to the event.
Grief is a natural and normal response to a loss; it lasts longer than people think, takes more energy than imagined and changes and evolves over time. Grief shows up in each sphere of life: physically, emotionally, financially, spiritually and socially. As professionally trained grief counselors at Agrace HospiceCare, our focus is providing pre- and post-death support to patients and their loved ones at the end of life, but people may be surprised to know that we also provide short-term grief support to anyone in the community as part of our service as a nonprofit hospice.
In addition to one-on-one counseling and grief-support groups for those dealing with the loss of a loved one, Agrace also provides free support to schools, community groups and businesses that experience a sudden or tragic death. A lot of this type of work involves answering questions and providing supportive education on what types of things people can expect in the grieving process. One of the main comforts to people is often just knowing that their reaction is normal.
Through Agrace’s Corporate Ambassador program, we work with local businesses as not only an end-of-life resource, but also through presentations to provide education on what the grieving process it like, how to cope with grief and what’s important when grieving a loss. In specific incidences, we work to teach employers how to help their employees cope when there’s been a traumatic event or death of an employee.
Agrace also hosts free question and answer sessions at our Janesville office on a variety of topics, including grief. September’s session will cover comforting and supportive things you can say to those who are grieving, as well as avoiding words that can hurt. October’s seminar offers coping skills and advice for people grieving during the holiday season.
Information about Agrace grief support groups, including schedules, can be found at agracehospicecare.org or by calling (608) 755-1871. For more information abut Agrace’s Corporate Ambassador Program, call Lisa Brown at (608) 755-1871.