Assisi Hospice

Bereavement Care Programme – Reaching out to those in grief

Mdm Tan (name has been changed) was devastated when her husband, a patient of Assisi Hospice, passed on. Suffering from depression and being traumatised with dealing with her parents’ deaths previously, she struggled to accept her husband’s death. Our counsellor from the Bereavement Care Team provided monthly face-to-face counselling support, in the first 1.5 years after the death of the husband. During the counselling sessions, she learned to recognise her grief and accept her vulnerability and denial. She learned coping strategies to manage her emotions, including breathing techniques, using internal dialog to connect with the memory of her husband, and participated in activities to divert her mind and find meaning in what she could do. Gradually, she made meaning of her dreams of her deceased husband, constructed new meaning of his death and established new purpose for her life without him, and was able to say goodbye.

Bereavement care is part of the continuum of palliative care for patients and their families and is as important as the care before death occurs. While majority of the bereaved persons are able to cope with their bereavement within their own support network, there is a population of bereaved persons who will benefit from professional help to aid their coping. Hence, it is important for them to receive the needed support in their grief journey.

At Assisi Hospice, we started the Bereavement Care Programme in January 2021, reaching out to families of our late patients to provide support through individual counselling, art and music therapy, pastoral care and support groups when needed. From Jan to Nov 2021, over 110 family members of our late patients received support from the Bereavement Care team.

Later this year, the Bereavement Care team will be piloting a Befriender Service rendered by trained volunteers to befriend and accompany the bereaved especially in the beginning phase of their bereavement. It may involve providing guidance to the bereaved person in handling practical chores in their daily life, for example, how to pay household bills, and having someone to spend time with or to have a meal together. The team is also exploring Buddy Service – pairing the bereaved person with a trained volunteer who has been through their own bereavement experience and may be able to provide more in-depth peer support emotionally. The team will also seek to promote public awareness and outreach through online platforms.

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