LAVNS: Bereavement Support Services

Bereavement Support Services
Almost all of us have experienced grief in some form. The loss of a loved one is a universally shared experience, yet we live in a culture that does not encourage an open expression of grief.
The common misconceptions surrounding grief include the idea that we will, over time, “move on”, “carry on” and “get over it.” The underlying message with these expressions of condolence is that grief is a process which has a beginning, middle and end and that a particular period of time will cure that condition. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Grief is reflection that the life of your loved one was important to you and that you miss the value of his or her presence. Grief does not present itself in a linear fashion. If the journey could be drawn, it might look like a road map, with twists, turns, hills and valleys, and many hazard signs along the way. The challenge for all of us who experience grief is to learn to understand how to navigate the uncertainty of this journey and continue to live a satisfying life. Our deep sense of loss and altered reality often makes us reach out toward the certainty of a well-traveled road, but the landscape has changed forever. We must learn to drive all over again.

An important task for the grieving person is to be able to imagine having new experiences without the presence of the loved one lost. The value of continuing to live a full life is powerful to the grieving person as it allows him or her to acknowledge that life still has meaning. It moves the grieving person forward, often one small step at a time, to each new day, to a different place, to an altered terrain that still contains beauty, love and new life experiences.

To acknowledge that the death of a loved one will not allow us to ever return to how our life was before is often a lengthy and difficult process. The ability to accomplish this depends on many factors, including the type of support system that a person has. Familiar people, for example, friends and family who share the same love and connection to the deceased, can affirm your right to feel the fullness of your loss. 

A grief support group can provide an objective presence and will encourage free expression of thoughts. Support groups are focused on the shared experiences of individuals and are a useful experience for many who find that they are struggling for ways to cope with loss. A facilitator will provide information and resources, encourage and support the interaction between participants, and ensure confidentiality and privacy. Los Alamos Visiting Nurse Service offers support groups to the community on a regular basis.

For more information about dates and to sign up for the next group, contact Los Alamos Visiting Nurse Service, Inc. (LAVNS) at 505.662.2525.