- Updated: 10 May 2021
… and each week at Hospice of the Valleys it is my responsibility to keep track of the deaths that occur between our interdisciplinary team meetings so that we can appropriately follow up with bereavement services. So, with each death, there is a plan of care extended to the “primary bereaved”, usually a spouse, son or daughter, or close family friend or relative who was involved in the end-of-life care of their loved one. My heart is softened as I consider the loss of each of the bereaved.
Deaths occur every week in hospice work. It is expected and it is “part of the job.” But it is also the beginning of a grief journey that is often more difficult than anticipated for the bereaved. Because of this, I have found that working with people who have recently experienced the death of a loved one has been one of the most satisfying and gratifying parts of my job. I have learned that creating a safe space for people to tell their story is the most effective way for me to do my job well.
A “safe space” is often earned by listening without judgment, affirming with few or no words, and gently educating… again with very few words. I used to worry about saying the right things so to be most helpful to the bereaved, but I have become convinced that listening intently is more important than speaking accurately… that empathizing is more important than educating. There is value in knowing what “not to say” and in what is involved in normal grief, but even more value in holding a safe space for the bereaved to share their story of loss.
Each week as a pastor it is my responsibility to lead the church to evangelize. I think there is great value in being “safe” for others to be “real.” As Christians we have opportunities every day to interact with people who are experiencing losses and traumas of their own, and we can earn the right to be heard if we have first learned how to listen. To listen without judgment, empathize with the intent of building a relationship, and, when God is ready, to be available to help people align their hearts with Christ, who has paid the price for their salvation. I hope you will take the opportunities before you this week to experience the most satisfying and gratifying work of connecting with others, with gentleness and respect, so they may know Christ who is in you.
For His glory,