March April 2015 - Brattleboro Area Hospice

Brattleboro Area Hospice
Bereavement Program
191 Canal Street
Brattleboro, VT 05301
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Photo by Kathy Carr
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Brattleboro Area Hospice Bereavement Newsletter
March/April 2015
802-257-0775 • 191 Canal Street, Brattleboro, Vermont •
A Grief Counselor Grieves
Submissions to Seasons If you have a photo, an original poem, or a personal story that you would like to submit for
possible use in this newsletter, please send it to Connie Baxter at [email protected]
BRATTLEBORO AREA HOSPICE offers a range of bereavement services, including support groups, individual and family bereavement
support with hospice staff or trained volunteers, a lending library, the Hospice Memorial Garden at Living Memorial Park, and a variety
of community education events throughout the year. All of these services are free of charge and available to anyone in the community. For
more information please call (802) 257-0775, and speak with Connie Baxter, ext. 104 or Cheryl Richards, ext. 108.
Hospice Lending Library
The Lending Library at our 191 Canal Street office has a collection of over 650 books,
DVDs, video and audio tapes, on topics of Grief and Bereavement, Children, End of
Life, Spirituality, Memoirs, etc. Please stop in and visit the library anytime during our
office hours—Monday-Friday, 9:00-4:00.
Connie Baxter, Bereavement Care Coordinator
Cheryl Richards, Bereavement Care Counselor
Elizabeth Ungerleider, Youth Program Coordinator
To add or remove a name, please call 802-257-0775
or email us at [email protected]
contact us • 802-257-0775 • [email protected] •
Brattleboro Area Hospice is a non-profit, community supported, United Way agency
Cheryl Richards
The death of a pet or animal companion is often
an invisible loss to those who don’t share a strong
connection with animals. Transcendent interspecies
relationships can and do occur however. What follows is
a bit of my personal life enriching journey of grief when
Minnie, my treasured dog companion, grief counseling
partner, and hospice greeter, died two years ago. None
of my education, training and experience as a grief
counselor could prevent the raw anguish I felt at having
her ripped from my life. What my training and years of
experience in working with people who were dying and
grieving did give me however, was the willingness to pay
attention and allow my own inner witness to guide my
grieving journey.
Moving through deep grief irrevocably changes each one
of us–with or without our permission! The intensity
of our heartache leaves us barely able to function in
the world much of the time let alone make cohesive
decisions. However, over the years I have had many,
many teachers – two legged and four legged-show me
the hidden gifts of a grief lived with awareness, choice
and permission. Each time I have had to reluctantly give
up a dear one to death’s transition I have discovered
that these three optional decisions, or gifts, were at the
very foundation of my grieving heart and soul. I now
recognize that allowing oneself to surrender to and
wade through the anguish, despair and confusion of
heart shattering loss is an act of profound courage and
love. For ourselves. For our departed loved ones.
Loss is part of the universal flow of life; but each of us
moves through the pain of loss in our own unique way.
Becoming aware of and choosing to trust and honor our
own particular grieving rhythms are the first important
steps to surrendering into life’s flow.
Here are some of the tools I used as I crawled out of the
density of raw suffering into the lightness and gratitude of
love forever shared. If any of the tools sound good to you,
experiment with them and make them your own. If they
don’t sound like a good fit, find the nearest round file and
toss them!
• Breath work (intentionally slowing and deepening the
breath) and inner contemplation of physical sensations
and emotions within the body are powerful tools to
focus attention, and calm, soothe and nourish body and
• Choose to listen to your body’s wisdom. The body is
adept at knowing what it needs–and when it needs it
–the challenge is listening. Cry when you need to. Or
rage. Or sleep, talk, watch a funny movie, take a walk,
immerse yourself in music-whatever you find you’re
longing for. Give yourself permission to grieve your way.
• Soften. Soften. Soften. Intentional surrender to the pain
helps clear the pathway to the life-giving forces within
death and loss.
• For however long it takes, follow your body’s rhythms
–squirming in raw animal grief. At some point, as
you’re ready, hold yourself accountable by focusing
your awareness, setting your intention and giving
permission–how shall your pain change you?
Moving through some of the greatest agony life can offer is
an act of re-creation. The You that was, is no more. A new
You, one that has weathered great heartbreak, will emerge.
How shall your life unfold now?
Cheryl Richards is the Bereavement Care Counselor at Brattleboro Area Hospice, and also helps
families/children grieve and prepare for the death of an animal friend.
“What we have once enjoyed
and deeply loved, we can
never lose, for all that we love
deeply becomes a part of us.”
~Helen Keller
Looking Ahead to Summer Camps:
Camp Knock Knock May 29, 30, 31, 2015
at YMCA Camp Abnaki in North Hero, VT
Camp Knock Knock is a weekend camp for families with
children who have experienced the death of a loved one.
It’s the only camp of its kind in Vermont, and participating
families find the weekend to be a very valuable experience
for everyone in the family. Families are accepted on
a first come basis and must meet two criteria: a loved
one has died and children are accompanied by a parent
or guardian. Scholarships are available. For more
information and to register call Ally Parker at (802) 8604499 x3405.
Circle Camps for Grieving Children provides free weeklong overnight camp programs for girls ages 9-16 that have
experienced the death of a parent,. Camps in New England
are in Sweden, ME and Fitzwilliam NH, August 23rd28th. For more information visit www.circleoftapawingo.
Camp Kita is a free grief camp for children aged 8-17 who
are survivors of a loved-one’s suicide. Camp Kita will be
August 16th- 22nd at Thompson Lake in Poland, Maine.
For more information visit or email at
[email protected]
Save the Date!
Annual Memorial Planting Service
Will be held Sunday May 31st at 4:00 pm at the
Hospice Memorial Garden, Living Memorial Park
in Brattleboro. Look for complete details about this
event in the May-June issue of Seasons.
Hospice Foundation of America Annual Grief
Teleconference: The Longest Loss: Alzheimer’s
Disease and Dementia will be held Tuesday May
5th in Brattleboro. Please call our office or check our
website for more information about this free event.
Bereavement Support Activities
Bereavement Support Groups offer a safe, mutually supportive environment for sharing experiences, insight and
encouragement through discussion, handouts, and suggestions for moving through the grieving journey. Groups are free
of charge and meet at our 191 Canal Street office, unless otherwise noted. Please call Cheryl Richards at (802) 257-0775
ext. 108 (or the person indicated in a specific group description) or email [email protected] to make a pre-group
meeting appointment or for more information.
**New** 6 week Bereavement Support Group for Adults, begins Thursday April 9th, 4:30-6:00 pm, and will continue
on Thursdays through May 14th. This group is for those who have experienced a death loss of any type. We’ll use a
combination of conversation, writing exercises, music, art materials, sharing mementos, etc. to explore grief and healing.
Connie Baxter is the facilitator. Please contact Connie at 257-0775 ext. 104 to inquire about joining this group.
Bereaved Parents Support Group, for parents who have lost a teenaged or young adult child, will continue to meet on
Tuesdays through March 24th. If you’re interested in a future Bereaved Parents Support Group please call Cheryl Richards,
facilitator, at 257-0775 ext. 108.
Good Grief Groups meet when 4 or more close-in-age children or teens express interest. Contact Elizabeth Ungerleider,
258-0763 or [email protected]; or call Cheryl Richards at 257-0775 ext. 108 to learn more.
Bereavement Writing Support Group, an on-going group faciliated by Muriel Wolf, may have space for new participants.
Please contact Cheryl Ricahrds at 257-0775 ext. 108 to let her know that you’re interested in this group.
THE FOLLOWING ONGOING GROUP MEETS YEAR-ROUND **Dates Shown Are For Current 2 Month Period**
Spouse/Partner Loss Support Group facilitated by Cheryl Richards meets from 5:00-6:30 pm, the 2nd and 4th
Wednesdays of the month. Dates for this group are: March 11th and 25th - April 8th and 22nd. Contact Cheryl at 2570775 ext. 108 to inquire about joining this group.
Individual and family support is also available with trained bereavement volunteers and staff. Please call Connie Baxter
(802) 257-0775 ext. 104 or Cheryl Richards ext. 108 for more information, an appointment, or just a listening ear.