Grief support resources can be hit and miss
grief & loss resources
• Pathfinders Grief and Loss support programs, Aspen to Parachute, (970) 925-1226, www.pathfindersforcancer.org
• Home Care & Hospice of the Valley, Glenwood Springs, (970) 930-6008, www.hchotv.org
Active support groups:
Rifle Support Group, 3:30-5 p.m. Tuesdays through April 5, Rifle Branch Library, 207 East Ave.
Glenwood Springs Support Group, noon-1:30 p.m. Wednesdays through April 16, US Bank, 1901 Grand Ave. More information and RSVP: Kristen Finneran, (970) 456-3483 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Kim Marie of Silt was still working through the trauma of losing both of her parents to cancer between 2013 and 2014. She was attending a weekly grief support group in Glenwood Springs last fall, when she was unexpectedly faced with a new kind of loss.
“I went four times and got a call that it would be ending,” Marie said of her support group. “I was blindsided by it. All of sudden I was grieving the loss of my support group.”
Since that happened, Home Care and Hospice of the Valley has resumed grief support groups in both Glenwood Springs and Rifle just this month.
Aspen-based Pathfinders also offers grief support services throughout the Roaring Fork Valley and Garfield County, and the regional Mind Springs Health will occasionally offer local grief support groups as well.
But Marie said the gap of time in between, for her personally and for others she’s spoken with, was an eye-opener about the lack of consistent grief support and the need for more options.
“I started thinking about the fact that no one talks about this, and people deal with it differently,” she said.
Some can immerse themselves in work or other activities and deal with it that way, she said. Others, like herself, need to talk it out with peers who are going through the same thing.
“We seem to have regular support groups for lots of other things, but not something that every single person goes through at some point,” Marie said.
Kristen Finneran is the new director of grief and bereavement services for Home Care and Hospice of the Valley. She recently replaced longtime Hospice of the Valley chaplain and grief/bereavement director Sean Jeung, who is now director of pastoral care at Valley View Hospital’s Calaway-Young Cancer Center.
“It is a service that needs to be built up in the community, and there are not too many options available,” Finneran said. “We’re excited to get the new Glenwood and Rifle groups up and running, and hopefully we can have more.”
She said Hospice of the Valley offers grief support in different ways, including following up with families who have had a loved one in hospice care for 18 months after that person’s passing.
Closed groups are typically for family members who have suffered a recent loss involving a hospice patient, usually with an eight-week commitment.
Other groups are offered more on a drop-in basis for anyone dealing with the recent loss of a loved one, whether that person was in Hospice of the Valley care or not.
“It’s not meant to be long-term support,” Finneran said, but rather to help families or individuals in the immediate aftermath of a loss. “If someone is grieving longer than that, we will refer them to an individual counselor or other grief recovery groups.”
Most groups are offered free of charge, or for a voluntary donation, including those provided through Pathfinders.
Though originally founded to address the specific needs of cancer patients, caregivers and their families, Pathfinders has expanded to offer a range of support around all forms of grief and loss, according to the organization’s website.
Pathfinders works with individual counselors in the area to coordinate support group’s, including Jennifer Bouchet’s ongoing Winter Grief Recovery group in Carbondale.
Bouchet uses the Grief Recovery Method and also requires a full commitment for those attending. She said she rotates her groups to different locations in the valley to reach more people.
“Pathfinders does other things at various times, and the great thing about them is they provide grief support regardless of a person’s ability to pay,” Bouchet said. “We do ask for a fee, but people can pay what they can, or nothing at all.”
Marie said grief can strike in different ways, not just with the loss of a family member or close friend. Even the loss of a pet, or an adored celebrity or artist, can trigger emotions, she said.
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