Hospice Compassus adds bereavement team

Saturday, March 2, 2019

Training offers new resource to local residents

Hospice Compassus expanded its resources for helping area residents reaching end-of-life issues through the addition of a bereavement team. Training for the new team was offered on Feb. 28 in Monett.

“Grief never ends, but it changes,” said Cathy Lewis, chaplain for Hospice Compasses. “It's a passage, not a place to stay. The circle of sickness and death is an everyday event for those who serve in any hospice program. The call to dedicate one's life to these human needs is a special calling. Addressing bereavement has opened up another part of their grief program.”

Chaplain Larry Kackley, who developed the background and issues surrounding the spiritual issues of bereavement, opened the program. Combining his long years of service in church work and as a chaplain, Kackley presented points from Biblical passages, literature on the subject and specific topics that a counselor would need as a volunteer.

Hospice Compassus is known throughout the area as one group that includes “trained angels” to sit with the dying and provide follow up for family members after the death of a loved one. Trainer Brenda Smith reiterated these other services and then opened up specific directions to make the time even more personal for those who need more support and ideas to cope with life after a loved one is gone.

Smith presented a handbook for the new group. It included the definition of a bereavement volunteer, the difference between loss, grief and bereavement and then the group covered specific issues that people may face after the funeral. The men and women talked about the stress of a child's death. Suicide adds another dimension to family life when death is unexpected.

Participants around the table already held certification as hospice volunteers, chaplains, angel watchers, and even office workers. These experienced hospice team volunteers embraced the next process of serving in the role of a bereavement support team.

The newly formed group will use HUGS — Hearts Uniting in Grief Support — as its model. Due to the diversity of needs, there are several resources provided.

“Choosing to serve in this added capacity will enhance the success of Hospice Compassus in the area because this dimension is even more developed and the number of volunteers increased,” Lewis observed.

Participants explored four types of grief: anticipatory, unanticipated, complicated and disenfranchised. People often say they regret not calling Hospice sooner. The team approach to assisting them becomes evident right away.

Trainers observed that diversity in background offers a better key to success. One may find a child or teen facing issues, for whom teachers on the team can provide specific aid. Some are early widows or widowers and understand better what a wife or husband faces. Others know how much it takes from a family when the loved one is very sick for a long time. 

Trained volunteers may recognize if the family or individual needs more professional help. The team can provide guidance.

“Sometimes just knowing grief is normal, support is available and realistic expectations can be set to know there are ‘seasons of the heart’ for those facing grief,” Lewis said.

The hospice group is now available to speak to churches and community organizations about the new resource.

Hospice Compassus is located on Highway 60 in Monett, west of Hess Drive. Additional information or appointments are available by calling 417-235-9097.