DE Hospice Supports Before, After Loss


by Terry Rogers

Facing the loss of a loved one or dealing with the loss after they have passed can be extremely difficult. It is not a one-size-fits-all process and what works for one person may not work for another. Delaware Hospice understands that grief is an extremely personal matter and their adult bereavement department offers several services designed to support those who are grieving.

“Throughout the state, we offer monthly “drop-in” groups, six-week educational support groups for those wanting to process their grief issues on a deeper, more consistent level as well as social support groups at various restaurants for those who are looking for an opportunity to connect with others in a more informal setting,” Sondra Satterfield, MSW, LCSW, Manager of Family Support Services at Delaware Hospice, said. “We are also able to offer individual sessions. For those who are facing a loss of a loved one due to serious illness, or at end of life, Delaware Hospice offers traditional hospice services to eligible patients, along with other programs to assist patients and families with serious illnesses but who may not be at end of life.” The staff at Delaware Hospice, from nurses to chaplains to bereavement counselors offer education on diseases, symptom management, comfort measures, locating resources and emotional support, Satterfield explained.

For young people, grief may be exceptionally difficult. For this reason, Delaware Hospice offers a program called New Hope for children under the age of 18. Too often, Satterfield explained, children are the forgotten grievers because they process loss differently based on their level of development and life experiences.

“Our New Hope counselors are uniquely trained to provide support, education and consultation to the grieving youth, as well as those caring for them,” Satterfield said. “The New Hope counselors also facilitate 4-week school groups throughout the state during the school year so the children and youth can support one another and understand that they are not the only one who has experienced the loss of someone special to them. In June each year, New Hope offers two 4-day camps filled with fun, support, education, a memorial service and the opportunity to connect with others their age to further work the loss and to gain additional coping strategies while experiencing a camp-type atmosphere.” Camps are located at Lum’s Pond near Bear from June 18 through June 21 as well as at the Delaware Hospice Center in Milford from June 25 through 28.

In addition to the groups and camps, New Hope offers other workshops throughout the year to assist young people. Satterfield described them as opportunities to assist our young people with addressing the issues related to adverse childhood experience that can result in the loss of someone special. Priority is given to children of Delaware Hospice patients and, if space is available, non-Delaware Hospice children may attend as well.

Because many people are fearful of the discussion of death and feel it is taboo or morbid, Delaware Hospice offers an event known as “Cocktails and Caskets” at the Backyard in Milton. The next event is planned for Tuesday, April 23 from 4 to 6 PM where people can gather in an informal, casual setting to discuss their thoughts and understanding of death.

“If we are more comfortable talking about death as a part of life, we are better able to share with our families and our physicians what we want before we are in a situation where someone else has to make serious decisions for us,” Satterfield said. “For those who are uncomfortable discussing loss in a group setting, I say “don’t knock it until you try it.” Groups often work differently than many expect. Some think that they will be more sad or depressed if they hear others talk about their loss. What often happens is a bit of “there is safety in numbers,” meaning that when others see that they are not the only one who has loved, experienced a loss and is reacting to that loss through many typical emotions and behaviors, they experience relief, a different perspective and gain strength in knowing that if others are coping with their loss, then they can too.”

Satterfield explained that no one in a group is required to share or talk any more than they are comfortable with. An experienced bereavement counselor is there to facilitate and guide the discussion. Although groups are not for everyone, Satterfield said, many find the emotional support they need to discover a “new normal” and strengthen the coping strategies they already have. Satterfield said that anyone who is experiencing grief are encouraged to at least come a few times, see if it fits for them and make a decision about whether or not a grief support group would be helpful.

For more information, contact Delaware Hospice at 800-838-9800.