Above & Beyond expands bereavement support services

Posted December 18, 2013 at 10:16 am

By Kim Brooks, Express Editor

Wanting to expand services to the community, Above & Beyond Hospice Care is now offering bereavement support services, facilitated by Maureen DeShaw. Above & Beyond hired DeShaw in August to coordinate these services and fulfill a need in the area.

Every Monday, Above & Beyond holds a bereavement support group called “Journey Through Grief” from 4:30-5:45 p.m. at the Jones County Youth Development Center, located at the fairgrounds. This is a free support group for anyone in the community to attend.

DeShaw has been in this career field since 1999, working with hospice services for Regional Medical Center in Manchester and as a bereavement coordinator for a funeral home in Delaware County.

“Journey Through Grief” is open to everyone, not just those Above & Beyond serves. Anyone who experienced a loss can attend. It doesn’t have to be a recent loss.

DeShaw’s interest in providing bereavement services stems from the loss of her own mother at a very young age.

“I was just thankful for the people helping me through a difficult time,” she said, including such help from chaplains, social workers and a support group.

She said today, people feel more open about expressing their thoughts compared to years ago. That’s why this bereavement support group is needed.

Above & Beyond works with volunteers, social workers and a local pastor, Rev. Ed Moreano, to provide as much support as they can.

As part of the group, “we listen with our ears and hearts,” DeShaw explained. “We ensure important questions get answered and work through the grief everyone is going through.”

While there are various stages of the grief cycle, DeShaw said everyone goes through the stages differently.

“Some grieve beforehand, some grieve later in life,” she said. “There’s no timeframe.”

After meeting together as a group, Above & Beyond will then follow up the families one-on-one, whether it’s with a phone call or personal visit for up to a year after the loss.

“Sometimes people will bring up unresolved issues,” DeShaw said during the grieving process. “They might hear a certain song or be reminded of someone by a certain scent.” That’s why Above & Beyond decided to extend their bereavement services. “People learn to develop a new identity after a loss.” DeShaw said a loss makes one a widow or a parent who has lost a child.

Anyone Above & Beyond serves through these bereavement services is added to a mailing list for monthly grief letters. They also receive support literature and a journal.

“Above all, we want them to know that the way they are feeling is okay,” DeShaw said.

DeShaw wants everyone to know that “Journey Through Grief” is a safe support group. “Everything mentioned here stays here. That’s something we stress,” she said.

Meeting with family members and friends who have lost a loved one, DeShaw said the support group is completely confidential and everyone’s thoughts and sharing remain private.

“We allow them to really think about the meaning of life and death,” said DeShaw. “We talk about the person who’s passed on.”

For more information on “Journey Through Grief” or other services provided by Above & Beyond, call 319-465-4637.