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Hospice Celebration of Life

  • Category: Hospice
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This Saturday, June 1, Gunnison Valley Health will host the fourth annual Hospice Celebration of Life. The event takes place at West Tomichi Riverway Park in Gunnison and is a beautiful and moving celebration in honor of loved ones lost. The event is organized by the incredible Gunnison Valley Health Hospice team who support so many in our community with the final phase of life. In addition, the team provides ongoing bereavement services to families with the grieving process.

Grief can be difficult to navigate – both as a person experiencing a loss and a person seeking to support someone who is grieving. Kristi Remkus, RN, a member of the Gunnison Valley Health Hospice team, put together some incredible advice for anyone wondering how to support a loved one who is grieving.

As the hospice celebration of life quickly approaches, I can't help but pause to reflect on my understanding of grief as both a hospice nurse and a human with plenty of practice.

I can tell you that I've learned a lot about shades of gray. I’ve also found that eventually, with enough care, there will be laughter in the midst of deep longing. I've seen beautiful transformation following times of real tragedy. And I know there can be incredible gratitude tangled up with profound grief.

So, when I'm asked what advice I have to support someone who has experienced a great loss, my advice is simple. Be proactive, be present, be real.

Know your griever will need tender care regularly and particularly on tough days. Offer a meal, a coffee, a cocktail immediately after and then again at month three, year one, birthdays and most especially, on death days. That's the proactive part.

Help remember that lost loved one by sharing bits and parts. Maybe you call to share a memory, or jot down a card with a photo, or perhaps you can text recalling a special moment. Please, however, be present to how it's received. Does it spark joy or does it cause harm. Make space to let your griever share and be brave enough to listen.

Which leads me to be real. If you're able to combine that authentic outreach with nuance, all the better. For your person may not be able to receive it well. That is not permission to clear out, only an opportunity to try again, maybe even gentler next time. I can assure you, the attempts will be important and most likely valued intensely, no matter how they were received in the moment.

So, as you consider someone in your life who has experienced loss, maybe now is a good time to reach out, to make space, to remember.

We can all practice the greys of grief, in nature, with a meal - together.