Bereavement

Houston Hospice Volunteer of the Year 2021 – Jerri Trigg

Houston Hospice Volunteer of the Year 2021 is Jerri Trigg

Jerri Trigg, Volunteer of the Year

Each year, our Volunteer Team thoughtfully selects the Houston Hospice Volunteer of the Year from over 120 wonderful and generous people. This year’s special altruist was selected for going above and beyond general duties to help hospice patients, families, and staff during one of the most challenging year’s the world has seen. We are pleased to share that Jerri Trigg has been named 2021 Houston Hospice Volunteer of the Year!

“Over her seven years of volunteer work at Houston Hospice, Jerri has donated her time and talent in so many valuable ways,” said Patty Valle, Volunteer Manager, Houston Hospice. “She has worked directly with patients and families, assisted in our Texas Medical Center business office and Northwest office, delivered Thanksgiving dinner to a family in need, decorated holiday wreaths that adorned our in-patient unit, delivered elusive cans of  Lysol and N95 masks to help keep us safe during the pandemic, and so much more! We are grateful to Jerri for her generosity, kindness, and dedication to Houston Hospice,” continued Patty.

Jerri’s path to Houston Hospice began when her parents were in hospice care one year apart from each other. In both cases, the family experienced compassion, caring, patient and informative guidance during their journey through the end-of-life process. These quality-of-life experiences had a positive impact on Jerri and encouraged her volunteer efforts.

“I have always volunteered and participated in fundraising events throughout the community,” recalled Jerri. “After my own experiences with hospice, I always said I would like to give back in some way. Then, a friend of mine shared information about an upcoming  Butterfly Luncheon.  I was surprised to find out that it  was hospice for children and that really touched me! I attended the luncheon, and as they say, the rest is history,” she proudly stated.

Houston Hospice Volunteers are an integral part of our multi-disciplinary team, are carefully vetted and thoroughly trained to focus on improving the quality of life of patients with a serious illness. Each team consists of seven members – a physician, nurse, social worker, chaplain, bereavement counselor, hospice aide and volunteer. This specialized group of people provide a unique care plan for each individual patient, and their family, throughout the hospice care experience and the bereavement process. It takes a great deal of courage and compassion to be a hospice volunteer.

“Volunteering at Houston Hospice has been a positive and rewarding experience,” said Jerri. “I have met so many wonderful people here. Our many volunteers are like a big, caring family and I am so honored to be a part of this organization,” she beamed.

Houston Hospice is grateful to Volunteer of the Year 2021 Jerri Trigg, and to all her fellow volunteers, for the time, talent, and compassion they have invested to ensure patients and families receive the best possible end-of-life care they truly deserve.

For more information about volunteering at Houston Hospice, visit www.houstonhospice.org/volunteers.

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Houston Hospice Family Honors Anniversary with Sweet Gratitude

Lyssy Family Delivers Mini Bundt Cakes to Houston Hospice Nurses Feb 2021

Pictured from left: Houston Hospice Family LeAnne and Ervin presented mini-bundt cakes to nurses and staff at Houston Hospice in honor of their loved one’s passing.

Sharing with others proves helpful during the bereavement process

 

On the anniversary of a patient’s death, Houston Hospice families honor their loved ones in a variety of ways. Our organization supports the healthy expression of love and remembrance during each person’s grief journey.

Recently, the Lyssy Family returned to Houston Hospice to express their heartfelt appreciation to the nurses and staff who cared for the matriarch of their family during her time in hospice care.

“This is the 6-month anniversary of our mother’s passing,” said LeAnne (pictured above and on behalf of her siblings). “Our family wanted to make this day special by expressing our gratitude to the compassionate nurses who showed us kindness and respect. Our mom was a nurse too and an inspiration,” she continued.

The clinical staff received dozens of mini-bundt cakes from the Pearland couple.

Houston Hospices Nurses and Staff Receive Mini-Bundt Cake from the Lyssy Family in honor of the passing of Karen Lyssy.

Houston Hospice clinical staff share their surprise, mini-bundt cakes from the Lyssy Family in honor of Karen Lyssy’s passing. Pictured from left are Serena Simms-Young, CNA; Angelina Perales, CNA; Chemane Hubbard, RN.

For more ways to donate to Houston Hospice, please visit www.houstonhospice.org/donate.

 

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Houston Hospice Virtual Tour

Established in 1980 as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, Houston Hospice’s mission is to provide uncompromising, compassionate, end-of-life care to patients and families in our community. Join us in the Houston Hospice Virtual Tour.

As a member of the prestigious Texas Medical Center, we work closely with doctors, hospitals, and assisted living facilities to provide a holistic approach to hospice care. We are proud to say that we care for the whole patient and their families across 10 Texas counties. In addition to our specialized approach, you will have opportunities to be with your loved one when they truly need you the most. Take a virtual tour of our facility, located at 1905 Holcombe Blvd., Houston, Texas 77030. Here, you will see our private rooms, serene chapel, and The Garden at Houston Hospice, maintained by The Garden Club of Houston. We also provide care for patients at home or their facility of choice. To find out more, give us a call 24/7 at 713-468-2441 , or visit our website at www.houstonhospice.org.

About Houston Hospice
Houston Hospice is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that provides compassionate, end-of-life care to all patients and families across 10 counties in the Greater Houston Area. Established in 1980, we are the oldest, largest, independent, nonprofit hospice in Houston and a member of the Texas Medical Center.

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“Let me know if there is anything I can do”

Published by unknown hospice physician

“Let me know if I can do anything.” How many times have we uttered that sentence when a friend, distant relative or a colleague has informed us they have suffered a loss of a loved one? Don’t get me wrong, I’m sure most of us mean it and it seems like the right thing to say along with “I’m so sorry.” When I look back through my life, I can easily count how many times people have taken me up on my offer. As you’ve guessed, and I’m sure you can relate, it’s 0 number of times. In a time of loss and pain, people don’t want to ask others to go out of their way to help. They aren’t going to tell you they have no energy to cook, need help watching children, money to pay the bills or buy groceries. They won’t tell you they just need a hug and your gentle presence. We are afraid of impinging on people’s privacy and space. We don’t know what words to share or how to behave and in that uncertainty of what to do or say is where the subsequent isolation occurs for the one grieving. The isolation then leads to a sense of loneliness despite the rich number of friends and family willing to help but not knowing how.
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Coping with bereavement

Don’t bottle things up

Not everyone can express their sadness openly. But intentionally bottling up your feelings won’t help. Don’t try to compare yourself to someone who has gone through something similar. Grief is an individual experience, so don’t put a time limit on it based on how others have coped. Remember that it often takes much longer to get through bereavement than most people think.

Talking goes a long way.

Talk about it

One of the most helpful things to do after a bereavement is to talk about what you’re going through. You may, for instance, find it easy to talk to friends and family members. But if you’re the type of person who prefers to experience grief privately, you may prefer to talk to a counselor. You could also try getting help from a charity that specializes in bereavement counseling. Other support services may exist in your area – ask at your doctor’s surgery for details.

Plant a memorial

Research suggests that maintaining bonds with someone who has died is healthy, as many bereaved people fear their loved ones will be forgotten. Being able to pay your respects at a graveside can help, as it provides a place you can associate with the deceased.
You could also consider planting a tree in your local park, or even a rose bush in your garden as a reminder of the person you’ve just lost? To plant a tree in a favorite spot, contact the parks department of your local municipal council.

Take small steps

When someone close to you dies, don’t rush to make big decisions. Instead, take small steps such as starting a new hobby or taking a short break. Then in time, you’ll find the right time and the courage to make any necessary big changes.

 

 

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Help Your Employees Deal with Grief

Published in MultiBriefs By Lisa Mulcahy

It’s a common scenario, unfortunately. One of the best members of your team suffers the loss of a spouse, parent, sibling or child. Corporations, of course, allow for some bereavement time, but experts say the process of working through the initial stages of grief can last on average between six months and a year, and in some cases even longer.

How do you handle it if this employee breaks down in tears in a meeting? What if his work is temporarily not up to par? How can you best encourage your staff to show compassion and support for her at this difficult time?

Here are five compassionate strategies for helping your workers cope emotionally as they navigate their duties as productively as possible through a profoundly difficult time.

  1. Send condolences

First, it’s a must to send appropriate condolences to your employee in the early days of her initial bereavement. This means a heartfelt sympathy card and flowers sent on behalf of your entire staff. Your employees should also be allowed and encouraged to express their individual sympathy as well.

If a wake and/or funeral is open to the public, attending these services is a strong and supportive gesture you and your employees can also make to show care and respect.

  1. Have a productive face-to-face

The day your employee returns to work, ask him to sit down with you in your office. Express your condolences with sensitivity, and express your sincere desire to support him as he re-acclimates to the workplace.

Ask him directly what he needs. Is it a gradual re-entry into his responsibilities? If so, delegate some of his project work temporarily. Is it more time off? Work with him to see if personal days or vacation time could be used for this purpose.

Listen to what he tells you, and let him know you are here to make things as easy as possible. The Society For Human Resource Management has published some helpful information regarding respite time for grieving workers.

  1. Implement a kindness policy

Encourage your staff to show compassion and offer assistance openly to this employee — and let everyone know this policy will apply to anyone dealing with a loss in the future as well. Grieving professionals repeatedly report in studies that compassion shown by co-workers has a powerful effect on their psyche as they heal, and lets them feel supported so they are as productive as possible. Two interesting pieces of research touch on this concept.

Your employee may become emotional at times during her workday, maybe even crying openly because she can’t help herself. Never judge this understandable behavior — instead, let her know it’s perfectly fine to excuse herself for a short time whenever she needs to. Encourage her co-workers to lend her a hand with supportive words whenever they think she’s struggling, too.

  1. Double-check without judgment

Take the time to follow up on your employee’s work to make sure there are no major mistakes (there will probably be minor ones), but don’t make a big deal out of doing so. If bigger mistakes happen, reassure your employee that you understand this is a temporary situation, and assign a second worker or workers to kindly help him with tasks. This technique can quickly get him back on track without any awkwardness.

  1. Praise her strength

Grieving people can use all the positive feedback you can provide. Don’t hold back on a compliment as to how well she handled a presentation — this will give her confidence as she tackles her next task. At the same time, don’t overdo your praise — your employee doesn’t want to feel singled out as “the griever” in your office who needs to be handled with kid gloves.

Treat her kindly but normally. You’ll be helping her feel more like herself, so she can concentrate well, accomplish more and continue to feel better.

Lisa Mulcahy is an internationally established health writer whose credits include the Los Angeles Times. Redbook, Glamour, Elle, Cosmopolitan, Health, Good Housekeeping, Parde and Seventeen.

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The Road to Healing Takes Time

Originally Published in Pocketful of Chelles Blog

By Michelle Kohlhof / February 19, 2018

Last week was tough. The world witnessed a tragedy that has become all too familiar, another school shooting. A day that was supposed to be about love and peace, turned dark and cold for so many. On the day after, when I dropped my little dude, Jason, off at his school, he dashed into his classroom shoving his backpack into his cubby, and my heart just broke into pieces for the families of the victims in Parkland, FL.

How could one person take seventeen beautiful souls, most of them being children? We ask ourselves why did this have to happen, we say prayers for the families who now have to learn how to move on without their child, and we call on congress for change, yet again. It’s hard to imagine how you go on after such a devastating tragedy. Simple things like going back to work, seem like mountains to climb. While we look for answers, one thing is for sure; time doesn’t stand still for the ones who need it to the most. Instead, you learn how to compromise with time, and make the most of what he gives you. We find ourselves pleading for time to just stand still, to have just five more minutes with the ones we love. But you see, time doesn’t wait for no one, and this is why there is more to life than the nine-to-five grind.

We find our humanity—our will to live and our ability to love—in our connections to one another.― Sheryl Sandberg, Option B: Facing Adversity, Building Resilience, and Finding Joy

As I mentioned at the beginning of this post, last week was tough. Sometimes you don’t get a “do over”. What you do get is a chance to put things in perspective, and not take the life you’ve been blessed with for granted. So on a whim, my husband, Travis, says to me, “you know, we can take a road trip, South, and hang out with your parents”. So, we took advantage of the long weekend (President’s Day), loaded up the truck, and off we went! And as you can imagine with a nine hour drive, I had time to reflect, time to think, and time to write…

All this time got me thinking, how can employers and HR support employees through grief and loss? Are bereavement leave policies enough? I started to research this and one article from SHRM stood out. Click here to read more. In a time of unspeakable loss, what are some big things that HR can do to support their employees and organization?

1) It’s more than policy – It’s about having a plan:

To my fellow HR professionals, let’s work together with management and executives to create a plan to support employees in their time of need. We should do more than just contact the employee and share information about our organization’s bereavement policy. One great example is what Ernst & Young did last year. They provided dedicated HR support to the family of one of their employees who was critically hurt in the Las Vegas mass shooting tragedy. Thankfully, this EY employee survived, and her story showed us that having a plan can lessen the burden on the employee and her family. It shows us that an employer can really champion for their employees when they need us to the most.

2) It’s time to lead the way:

What can we do to prepare fellow employees for a grieving employee’s return to work?  There are a lot of emotions that the employee will still be dealing with upon his return. There will be lack of focus, and difficulty with concentrating, even on the simplest of tasks. We as HR professionals have to partner with management on creating a smooth path for the grieving employee as they return to the workplace. We need to lead the way in helping the grieving employee navigate back into the environment. It is vital for his success.

3) Give some space – It takes time:

I think the single most important thing we can do to help a grieving employee return to work is to give space. What if we created a private place where the grieving employee can go to take a break when she is feeling overwhelmed with emotions? These emotions will come in waves and it is important to give space.

Some “Chelles” find their way to shore, while some live in the sea for eternity. ― Michelle Kohlhof

My closing thought, take the time to set eyes on the ones you love, and are blessed to still have in your life. It’s another chance to fill your pocket full of “Chelles”.

 

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Grief During the Holidays: Some Tips

The winter holidays are generally perceived as “the most wonderful time of the year.” But for those who are facing grief after the death of a loved one, the holidays may instead be a time filled with pain and sadness.

Even those for whom grief is not as fresh, the holidays may serve as an annual reminder of the loss—not only of that person, but of tradition and celebration.Multi Generation Family Meal

Bereavement professionals working in hospice and palliative care understand how difficult this season can be. They support families coping with loss all year long. Bereavement counselors stress the importance of making decisions that feel right to the grieving person, and giving oneself permission to make new or different choices at the holidays.

Experts in Grief offer some tips:

Be Willing to Change Traditions

Holidays often center on certain traditions and rituals. For some, continuing these traditions without a loved one may be an important way to continue sharing their memory. For others, it may be more comforting to develop new rituals to help lessen the pain and immediacy of the loss.

Help Reduce Stress

While the holidays can be filled with meaning, they can also be filled with pressure and stress because of additional tasks such as shopping, baking and decorating. Grieving people should be encouraged to prioritize what needs to be done, and focus on those projects that may bring them pleasure. Perhaps the gift list can be pared down, cards need not be sent out, or another family member can cook the family dinner this year.

Remember those Who Have Died

The holidays can bring opportunities to remember the person who has died in a way that is personally meaningful. Some families choose to participate in holiday events at a local hospice. Others may choose to share special family stories over a meal. Some may find that making a donation to a special charity or volunteering time to help others in need may be a comforting way to honor their loved one.

The professionals at Houston Hospice know of the importance of providing emotional and spiritual support to those who are grieving but most importantly, they remind us that a person grieving should do what’s most comfortable for him or her during this time of year.

Houston Hospice offers a variety of grief support groups as one way to manage grief. All support groups are open to the public at no charge. If you or a loved one need help, please call 713-677-7131 to learn more.

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Holiday Grief: 10 Tips to Navigate the Emotional Minefield

16014834Grief is never more acutely felt than during the holidays, when there is an empty place at the table. As part of its nonprofit outreach, Houston Hospice offers complementary bereavement support to the community. During their pre-holiday workshops, Houston Hospice grief counselors, Marti Nelson and Tammy Zwahr, help the bereaved navigate the minefield of feelings and expectations they’ll encounter with these helpful tips:

HOW WILL I GET THROUGH THE HOLIDAYS?

10 tips for those who are grieving:

  1. Accept the likelihood of your pain. The energy you would spend evading what is going on around you will be more creatively spend adapting to the reality of what this particular season holds for you.
  2. Feel whatever it is you feel. Recognize the fact that something very important has happened in your life which causes reactions within you. Some of the feelings bereaved people feel include: sadness, depression, anxiety, fear, anger, guilt, and apathy.
  3. Express your emotions. The best means of expression is simple: be yourself. Choose people who will listen and respond thoughtfully. Journaling helps get feelings off your chest, clarifies thinking, and monitors your progress. Use music, pray, dance, or create.
  4. Plan ahead. Give yourself permission to change plans as you go. Talk things over with people whom you usually share the holidays.
  5. Take charge where you can. Evaluate holiday traditions. Some changes may be healthy and important to make. Eat healthfully and drink wisely. Maintain an exercise program or begin one. Get the rest you need.
  6. Turn to others for support. Let others know what you think will help you.
  7. Be gentle with yourself. Allow yourself time to rest. Avoid over committing yourself. Pace yourself on good days and give yourself lots of latitude on “bad” days and accept that grieving people have their share of these days.
  8. Remember to remember. You may have a special linking object which you might carry, wear, use, or place in easy sight. Create small remembrance area at home. Look at photos and talk to others about your life together. Remember the deceased in prayer, with a toast, or by lighting a candle at mealtime. Plant a tree or donate to a favorite charity.
  9. Search out and count your blessings. Stay in the present as much as possible. Savor what there is to savor. Cry and then let the tears pass and see what else you feel. Don’t be afraid to laugh.
  10. Do something for others. You can reach out and offer something of what you have and who you are, even if it feels like it’s only a little. Baby sit, cook a meal, or check on shut-ins. You can drive, shovel, telephone, mow, clean, trim, deliver, type, greet, etc. depending on your interests and abilities.

*EMOTIONAL WISH LIST

What would the holidays be like if I could have these wishes granted?

*Adapted from: “Tis The Season to be Jolly?”.  Dr. William Alexy.  Bereavement Magazine, November/December 1989. Reprinted with permission of Bereavement Publishing, Inc. (713-282-1948).

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Share These Helpful Resources For Grief & Loss

Helpful Resources for Grief & Loss
grief and loss

 

 

 

 

 

Taking Care of Yourself Includes Accessing Support

Grief may be experienced in response to physical losses, such as death, or in response to symbolic or social losses such as divorce or loss of a job.  The grief experience can be affected by one’s history and support system. Taking care of yourself and accessing the support of friends and family can help you cope with your grief experience.

There is no right way to grieve. It is an individual process and a natural part of life. Life won’t be the same after a loss, but experiencing your grief will allow you to adjust to life after loss.

Grief lasts as long as it takes to adjust to the changes in your life after your loss. It can be for months, or even years. Grief has no timetable; thoughts, emotions, behaviors and other responses may come and go.

Helpful Resources

Supporting Someone Who is Grieving [PDF]
There is no Wrong or Right Way to Grieve After a Loss [PDF]

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