By Linda Donovan, Grief Support Volunteer
In 2006, shortly after my husband died of cancer, I began a personal exploration into understanding grief and how to work through it. I turned to Hospice of Santa Cruz County for the healing, compassionate individual and group support that I needed to heal from through my loss. Two years later, armed with new insight based on my own journey, I decided to move over to the “other side” and become a grief support volunteer. I completed a series of training sessions and began to provide individual and group grief support to the community. It has been one of the most rewarding experiences in my life.
As a recipient of grief support services, I learned that the grief journey is a process. The one-on-one sessions gave me a chance to express my concerns, ask questions, and learn how to adapt to a “new normal” way of life. These individual meetings helped address my unique circumstances and issues. In the group workshops, I experienced the power of group healing and compassion. I even met a really good friend through the group. We have built a friendship that has helped us get through the challenges of our loss.
I cannot stress enough the value of grief support services. These programs provide a place where you can feel safe enough to express your fears, discuss your struggles, and learn how to pick up the pieces and move forward with a life without your loved one. Without grief support, it’s all too easy to put your feelings of loss aside and try to “get over it.” But that approach doesn’t help you heal. It only postpones the loss that needs to be addressed at some point.
As a grief support volunteer, I get to see firsthand the power of helping people give themselves permission to feel their loss and work through it at their own pace – not anyone’s else’s. I’ve witnessed the transformative nature of grief groups. When people first begin a group, they are often quiet, lost, and bewildered. As each week progresses, many find an inner strength to not only learn ways to cope with their own loss, but also to reach out to others in the group in a caring, healing manner.
Hospice of Santa Cruz County provides up to eight one-on-one sessions for adults and children facing the loss of a loved one. There are also focused groups for those losing a partner, child, or parent, as well as for children and teens and adults who prefer a drop-in group. And the support isn’t just for families who had Hospice care. Anyone in our community who has lost someone close to them can access these services.
Hospice’s grief support programs are completely funded by community support. Contributions to Hospice of Santa Cruz County make these valuable services available for the entire community. If you are interested in making a donation to support this and HSCC’s other community programs Click Here or call 831-430-3000.