Our Resources

August 14, 2017

It is human nature to share ideas and opinions with others. At times, it can be difficult to distinguishing the truth from an opinion freely given. Below are resources that may assist you in your personal growth along your grief journey. You determine, from what you learned if the information can assist you in your personal growth or not. The pain of grief comes in many different shades. As unique individuals we feel and respond differently. Discover your healing path with the help of a skilled grief counselor.

“Just as people do not live alike, they do not die alike. Death and dying occur in social context.”

– Cultural Competency in Grief and Loss, by Robin Florelli, MSW, LCSW, and Wanda Jenkins, MHS.

The resources provided below are a variety of recommended readings that may assist you or someone you love in the grieving process.

When Grief Becomes a Mental Health Issue

August 14, 2017

What do you do when grief becomes a mental health issue? Recently I lost a friend to suicide, and it made me think of all the other losses I’ve suffered. Two memories stand out in my mind–the death of my maternal grandfather to cancer and the death of my paternal grandmother to a stroke. One was a mental health issue, the other was not. There are several things people can do when grief becomes a mental health issue.

Dementia Patients and Grief

July 31, 2017

The death of a loved one is difficult for anyone, but it is a special challenge when someone in the family has dementia. It’s hard for family members to know how and when to tell the person with dementia about the death. And what should they do when the person doesn’t remember?

Coping With a Child’s Illness While You’re in Recovery

July 24, 2017

Getting the news that your child is dangerously–perhaps even fatally–ill is one of the most difficult things any parent will ever go through. It is life-changing, and for many, it seems like a nearly impossible task to get through it without the help of drugs or alcohol to numb the pain. What those in recovery know, however, is that substances will only make things worse in the long run. They may provide temporary relief in the now, but later, the original issue is still there and is clouded by the shame or guilt that came with the substance abuse.

It’s a terrible thing, to watch a child go through an illness or deal with life-altering consequences, and it can lead to depression and other mood disorders very quickly. For that reason, it’s imperative to make a conscious decision now to learn coping methods that are healthy and don’t require a substance. It is possible, and with a little help, you can get through it.

Final Logistics: A step-by-step guide to handling a loved one’s belongings after their death

July 17, 2017

When someone passes away, they leave everything behind, including their belongings. It falls to the surviving loved ones to rehome or reorganize these items, from leftover food in the kitchen to linens in the closet. But remembering which housekeeping tasks need to get done among all the other final arrangements can feel overwhelming, and that’s not stress a grieving family should have to face.

The New Stages of Grief: 5 Tasks, No Timeline

July 10, 2017

What bereaved survivors wish they’d known about the grieving process

Bereaved people often brace for the so-called stages of grief, only to discover their own grieving process unfolds differently. The stages of grief — popularized from earlier theories put forth by Elisabeth Kübler-Ross in her 1969 book On Death and Dying, and later modified by others — initially described responses to terminal illness: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, acceptance. While some find those responses relevant to coping with death, psychologists increasingly believe that the idea of “stages” oversimplifies a complex experience. And grieving survivors seem to agree.

A Collision of the Cost of Caring and Grief

June 28, 2017

“I’m exhausted and I just can’t seem to focus.” These are the words often spoken by many people who are experiencing grief in response to the loss of a loved one. However, these can also be some warning signs that a person may be experiencing the effects of Compassion Fatigue. Sometimes labeled “Vicarious Trauma”, Compassion Fatigue is defined as the “physical and mental exhaustion and emotional withdrawal experienced by those that care for sick or traumatized people over an extended period of time.”1 Often times a family member or a good friend takes on the role of caregiver for a person who is nearing the end of their life. As the days, weeks, months, and sometimes even years go by, the caregiver consistently and fully invests themselves into caring for their loved one. There is no question that the caregiver is an amazing blessing to the person. They have sacrificed their own desires and needs in order to care for their loved one with such devotion. However, while a caregiver may not notice it in the day to day moments, there is a cost for caring and the cost is often not realized until after a loved one has passed away. This is where the cost of caring and grief collide.

What to Watch For
While caregivers are often locked into survival mode and unable to recognize signs of Compassion Fatigue until after a loved one has passed, there are definitely some signs to be on the lookout for. When these signs are recognized, a caregiver can take preventive steps to care for themselves as well. Some common signs of Compassion Fatigue include:
• Exhaustion
• Reduced ability to feel sympathy and empathy
• Anger and irritability
• Increased use of alcohol and drugs
• Dreading caregiving responsibilities
• Disruption to world view, heightened anxiety or irrational fears
• Intrusive imagery or dissociation
• Hypersensitivity or insensitivity to emotional material
• Impaired ability to make decisions and care for a loved one
• Problems with intimacy and in personal relationships

What if it’s too late? What if grief and compassion fatigue and grief have already collided?
It is important to develop a plan if you realize that Compassion Fatigue is complicating your grief. Here are some steps you can take to begin to heal and recover from Compassion Fatigue:
• Find someone with whom you can share honestly and openly about your thoughts and feelings
• Remember that what you are feeling is normal in light of what you have been through
• Start exercising and eating properly
• Get enough sleep
• Find a support group where you can meet people with similar experiences of grief and loss
• Consider developing a new hobby
• Be intentional about scheduling time and space where you can physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually heal. Do this away from your normal environment if necessary.

Grief is a journey with no exact timeframe or road map. Grief is often a very difficult journey in itself with many ups, downs, and bumps along the way. When someone is experiencing the effects of Compassion Fatigue as they travel the road of grief, the journey can feel almost unbearable. If the cost of caring has collided with your grief, reach out for some support today. There are people out there who will walk alongside you and help to ease the pain you are experiencing. You are not alone.

Jeremy Brown, Community Hospice Bereavement Specialist

[1] “Compassion Fatigue.” Merriam-Webster, n.d. Web. 22 June 2017.


Suicide Support Resources

May 23, 2017

• 24/7 Crisis Hotline: National Suicide Prevention Lifeline Network
1-800-273-TALK (8255) (Veterans, Press 1)

• Crisis Text Line Text
“Start” to 741-741

• Suicide Prevention Resource Center

• My3 – Mobil Phone App

• National Organization for People of Color Against Suicide

• American Association of Suicidology

• Mental Health First Aid

• National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention

• Circles of Supports – Friends and Family of Suicide Attempt Survivors

• The Trevor Project – Assistance with young adults 13-24 years geared towards the LGBTQ Community who are at risk to death by suicide

Recommended Readings and Online Resources

November 17, 2016

Recommended Grief Readings

Byock MD, Ira, The Four Things That Matter Most

Doka, K. editor (2009) Living with Grief: Diversity and the End-of life Care, Hospice Foundation of America.

Floyd, Maita, Caretakers the Forgotten People

Ginshurg, Genevieve Davis, Widow to Widow: Thoughtful, Practical ideas for rebuilding your life

Kuebelbeck, Amy, Waiting with Gabriel: A story of Cherishing a baby’s brief life.

Kushner, Harold S., When Bad things Happen to Bad People

Levang, Ph.D, Elizabeth, When Men Grieve: Why men grieve differently & how you can help.

Rutter, Phillip A. and Emil Soucar, Youth Suicide and Sexual Orientation, Journal of Adolescence, Vol 37 (146) Sum.2002, 289-299.

Staudacher, Carol, A Time to Grieve: Meditation for healing after the death of a loved One.

Tatelbaum, Judy, The Courage to Grieve: Creating Living, Recover & Growth through grief.

Wrobeskie, Adena, Suicide: A Guide for those Left Behind

Child and Teen Grief Readings

Buscaglia, Leo, The Fall of Freddy the Leaf

De Paola, Tomie, Nana Upstairs and Nana Downstairs

Varley, Susan, Badger’s Parting Gifts

Viorst, Judith, The Tenth good Thing About Barney

Grollman, Earl, Straight Talk about Death for Teenagers.

Online Resources for Child Grief

Dougy Center

National Alliance for Grieving Children

New York Life Foundation

National Center for School Crisis & Bereavement

Child Grief Awareness Day

Moyer Foundation

Recommended Reading for all Ages

Exupery, Antoine de Saint, The Little Prince, Harcourt Brace, Javanovich

Hague, Michael, The Velveteen Rabbit, Holt, Rinehart, Winston

Lewis, C. S., Chronicles of Narnia, Macmillan (set of seven books)

Mandino, Og and Kaye, Buddy, The Gift of Acabar, Bantam Books

Paulus, Trina, Hope For The Flowers, Paulist Press

Prepared to Respond

November 17, 2016

by Jeremy Brown, Bereavement Specialist

We live in a world where the potential of traumatic incidents and crisis is becoming an ever increasing reality. Each day we watch in disbelief as news outlets deliver information about the latest mass shooting, freak accident, or tragic death of a young child. It seems as though the news of these types of situations is inescapable. Everywhere we turn we are faced with the reality that there is no corner of our world which is exempt from crisis and trauma. The days of thinking and hoping that tragedy will somehow bypass our community are gone. This is why our community needs to be prepared to respond and support one another when a critical incident does occur.

Recently, several members of the Community Hospice Bereavement team attended a training which was focused on equipping people with the skills needed to respond to a variety of critical incidents in our community. The Critical Incident Stress Management (CISM) training was held at the Turlock Unified School District office, and was led by David Williams, M.A., B.C.C.C. Williams has over 20 years of experience in working alongside emergency services personnel, and is a Board Certified Crisis Chaplain with the American Academy of Experts in Traumatic Stress. Williams also holds several other certifications related to providing support and crisis intervention. During the three-day certification training, members of the Community Hospice Bereavement team were trained in both Group Crisis Intervention as well as Individual Peer Support.

As the training began, special attention was given to clarifying what a “critical incident” is. After all, in our fast paced social media driven world, words are powerful and can have a significant impact on people. For this reason, it is important to understand that critical incidents are defined as “unusually challenging events that have the potential to create significant human distress and can overwhelm one’s coping mechanisms.”(1) Upon hearing this definition, it is not uncommon to think, “Geez, I feel like I experience unusually challenging events that stress me out and overwhelm me all the time!” To some degree this is true. Life is indeed full of challenges that can feel overwhelming and cause a significant amount of stress. However, one of the keys to determining if a CISM response is needed is assessing whether or not a person affected by a crisis or traumatic event is able to respond and recover from the situation by using their normal coping mechanisms. With this in mind, we can see that CISM is more focused on a person’s response to a traumatic event rather than actual event itself. Some reactions following a trauma or crisis which may warrant a response from someone trained in CISM may include, but are not limited to: confusion or difficulty in decision making, anxiety, anger, panic, substance abuse, sleep disturbance, lack of appetite, withdrawal from normal social or workplace interactions, headaches, and even distorted vision.(2) In addition, a person in need of a CISM intervention is often unable to return to work, school, or other normal daily activities.

Whether a critical incident happens at or affects a school, business, hospital, church, sporting event, or any neighborhood here in Modesto, we want to be a support and come alongside those people who are most affected. As we look back through history we see convincing evidence “that many disorders could be nipped in the bud if prompt attention could be given.”(3) In addition, Critical Incident Stress Management is proactive in that it aims to promote “the resolution, repair, reconstruction, restoration, and rebuilding of the human spirit, mind, and body after sustaining the damages incurred by prolonged, extreme or overwhelming distress.”(4) This is why members of the Community Hospice Bereavement team attended the recent CISM training. We are committed to our neighbors here in our local and surrounding community, and we want to offer the highest level of compassionate and quality care to everyone we come in contact with. Regardless of what challenges someone may face, they can count on Community Hospice. Our team is so grateful for the opportunity we had to attend the recent certification training in Crisis Stress Management, and we are prepared to respond.

(1) George S. Everly, Jr., PhD, ABPP, FAPA, Assisting Individuals in Crisis, (International Critical Incident Stress Foundation, Inc., Ellicott, MD, 2015), 6.

(2) Jeffrey T. Mitchell, PhD., Group Crisis Intervention, (International Critical Incident Stress Foundation, Inc., Ellicott, MD, 2015), 41-43.

(3) Ibid.

(4) Ibid, 17