Two staff members from State of the Heart Care, Bereavement Specialist Sarah Depoy and Social Services Manager Erin Meyer, recently attended the Comprehensive Bereavement Skills Training in Scottsdale, Arizona.
The conference was led by a world-renowned grief counselor, author, and educator: Dr. Alan Wolfelt. With only 36 attendees, this was a very personable gathering that allowed for great conversations and breakout sessions on a smaller scale. Seminars during the conference covered topics, such as:
- Becoming more familiar with the grief process
- Enhancing abilities to relate to the grieving person or family
- Developing new skills to cope with personal feelings related to death and grief
- Heightening awareness of resources in the areas of death, dying, grief, and bereavement.
According to Dr. Wolfelt, he believes in “companioning” the bereaved, in contrast to the medical model of “treating patients.” He teaches that companioning is about being present to another person’s pain. He also believes it’s about honoring the spirit, listening with the heart, bearing witness to the struggles of others, and walking alongside them.
Takeaways from the Conference
Erin described the conference as emotionally exhausting but rewarding at the same time. She says they learned about grief and loss and how to better help patients, families, and the communities State of the Heart Care serves. Currently, State of the Heart Care stays in touch with families for 13 months following the passing of a loved one. Erin shared that one of the takeaways she had from the conference was that the bereavement program may need to extend past 13 months to better support families. She also thought that there could be some ways to improve and expand grief groups.
Sarah learned ways to listen to clients better to read where they are in the grief process and how to start that journey with them. They both agreed that the conference made them look at their own grief, and where they were personally in the grieving process. Erin stated she wants to continue their education in bereavement to offer the best services possible to the community.