Care for the families of Mercy Hospice Independence patients and terminally ill patients in the hospital does not end at the time of the patient’s passing. As part of the Bereavement Ministry of the hospital’s Pastoral Services Department, outreach continues to provide support throughout the grieving process.
“We try to make sure folks are managing their grief and taking care of themselves, and we offer any support we can through the process,” said Mercy Chaplain Renita Butler.
Mercy’s Bereavement Ministry outreach is offered in various formats, including touch-base phone calls at regular intervals during the grieving process to loved ones of patients who have passed away and an annual memorial service to help boost grieving families through the holiday season.
Mercy Auxiliary Volunteer Teresa Strecker schedules time every week to make outreach phone calls to family members who have experienced a recent loss.
“We usually start calling about a month after a loved ones death,” Strecker explained from the Pastoral Services office on a recent phone call day. It was a rather gloomy weather day, and Strecker said she almost put off the calling until another time, but found an extra hour in her schedule so she made the effort.
“For two of the people I talked to today, it was just the right time to call. They needed to hear from someone,” she said.
A more communal experience, the annual celebration of life service takes place on the first Monday of December and is an opportunity for all families to come together and share a time of remembrance.
“We recognize that the holiday time, starting with Thanksgiving and continuing through the New Year, can be especially difficult for someone grieving the loss of a loved one,” Butler said. “Taking the time to remember and celebrate our love for them helps ease the loneliness of the holiday season.”
This year’s “Tree of Life” celebration service is set for Monday, Dec. 2, at 6 p.m. at the Independence Friends Church, 507 N. 11th. The service is designed for families and loved ones of patients who have passed away in the hospital, with Mercy Hospice or in the community within the past year.
The venue, Friends Church, is an historic Quaker Meeting House, Butler noted, which will be decorated for Christmas and offers a cozy atmosphere for the event. The church also will offer a reception for guests following the Tree of Life service.
More information on the Tree of Life service or Mercy Pastoral Services is available by contacting Butler at 620-719-7677.