What Do Bereavement Counselors Do?

“Grief must be witnessed to be healed.”

                  Elizabeth Kubler-Ross

By Joyce Nevola, LMSW, Bereavement Counselor

Elizabeth Kubler-Ross, the renowned pioneer in death awareness studies and the author of the groundbreaking book, On Death and Dying, in 1969, taught that counselors should see people who are bereaved as teachers. Listening with the heart and bearing witness to personal struggles without setting up rules or emotional road map honors the spirit and offers a supportive presence which can be truly healing. Other leading experts in the eld of grief counseling echo the same theme. Dr. Alan D. Wolfelt developed the “Companioning Model of Bereavement Caregiving” where the focus is to honor and bear witness. Dr. Kenneth Doka has stated that the heart of grief counseling is validation because bereaved persons need to know that what they are experiencing is normal.

At the Hospice of CNY Grief Center, there are 4 masters level counselors. We o er counseling for individuals, couples, and families, including children and teens. A referral can be made by calling Hospice at (315) 634-2208. Since each person grieves in his/her own way, sessions are geared to individual needs. Some may come in for weekly sessions, others may choose to come in every 2 weeks or every month. Still, others may choose a one-time session a few times a year. Counseling for Hospice families and friends is free of charge for 13 months after the death. We also offer counseling for members of the community (non-Hospice related) and a donation can be made for services.

Our bereavement counselors also facilitate support groups. Some groups meet weekly for 6 to 8 sessions and are limited to 10 to 14 participants with required registration, while others are drop-in groups which do not require registration and can accommodate a larger group. Groups for spouse and partner loss, adult general grief, and children’s grief groups are available. Additional groups to meet specific needs such as parent loss and loss of a child may be available also. Annual talks are offered on how to cope with the holidays. Groups have been scheduled for grief yoga and craft memorial workshops. 

Our bereavement counselors also:

•Attune themselves to the bereavement needs of family members/friends of our Hospice patients beginning from the day of admission by collaborating with The Hospice Team.

•Counsel for anticipatory grief and sudden and traumatic loss.

•Create the Pathways to Healing Newsletter every 2 months.

•Offer community education presentations on grief and loss.

•Provide grief workshops for schools, nursing home staff, and professional and community organizations.

•Facilitate Camp Healing Hearts, a day camp held in August for grieving children entering first through sixth grades.

•Provide a Memorial Service of Remembrance in the community twice a year.

•Offer a bereavement resource library.

We are here to honor your struggle, ignite your courage, and restore your heart and spirit. Call us for support and participation in our services at 315-634-1100.