Courage…to listen to personal journeys of loss
By Leanne Billiau
When a loved one has died, there is still a lot to say.
In my job as a bereavement coordinator, I provide support to families who have gone through our hospice program for thirteen months after the death.
I find that helping families through the grieving process is rewarding work; I walk, metaphorically, on sacred ground every day as I follow families along the path of bereavement. In fact, I think of hospice as my calling. When I reflect on my years of medical social work prior to joining a hospice care team, I feel that everything I did and everything I learned along the way was leading me to this very place. When I am asked how or why I work with grieving people, I tell them it is truly an honor to bear witness to another person’s suffering. Joy and happiness, grief and loss, it is all part of the human condition and we are in it together.
Winston Churchill once said, “Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak; courage is what it takes to sit down and listen.” I am grateful that I have the courage to sit down and listen to those who have the courage to stand up and speak about their personal journey of living with loss.
The bereavement support provided at my hospice, Holy Redeemer Hospice, includes mailings with supportive literature, support groups, special events, phone support, and bereavement counseling. We also have two memorial services a year to provide those living with loss an opportunity for remembrance.
Yes, the loss of a loved one can be devastating. And, no matter what the circumstances, it takes time to adjust to the new reality. I am grateful that I have the opportunity to walk the path of healing along with so many.