Working through grief, one life at a time

Hospice patients, families receive care, support

Editor’s note: This is the first in an occasional series looking at local nonprofit organizations who provide support and counseling to grieving residents. If you know of an Apple Valley support group, email MHaprov@VVDailyPress.com.

By Amy Zillner
Apple Valley Review

As terminally ill patients work through their last days with family surrounding them, Community Hospice of Victor Valley stands close by, offering emotional and medical support.

And when the day comes, CHVV continues providing support to the patients’ families by easing them through the process of death, grief and remembrance, all while holding true to their motto: “Caring for the High Desert, one life at a time.”

“We help families at the time of their greatest need in their own home,” hospice director and administrator Raymond Vick said.

The hospice also offers free care to families who can’t afford it.

“We never turn a patient away if they don’t have funds but have the need,” Vick said.

The hospice’s nonprofit status allows them to offer this benefit. They also work with health insurance providers that do include hospice care, such as Blue Cross and Medicare.

Every patient is provided with an RN case manager, a social worker and home health aides, as well as a chaplain if needed, according to Vick.

Social worker Judi Nelson said her job allows her to get to know both the patient and the family giving her the opportunity to provide support to whoever needs it, 24 hours a day.

After the death of a loved one, CHVV offers a bereavement support group where family members can receive up to 18 months of support. The support group is also open to the public and meets at 10 a.m. every Tuesday at the hospice.

“It’s normal and healthy to grieve,” Nelson said. The support group provides a place where people can share feelings and experiences with each other.

“Being kind to yourself is key,” said Betsy deBos, bereavement coordinator for VNA Hospice & Palliative Care of Southern California. “Take all the time you need to work through your grief — there is no limit or one right way to go through this experience.”

Nelson notes “grief bursts” are likely to occur during the process, which are an emotional reaction triggered by, for instance, a smell, that brings back the memory of a loved one. She said the smell of narcissus flowers still brings tears to her eyes, a reminder of her mother.

“Be open to it, allow yourself to cry, to get angry — it’s OK,” Nelson said

The hospice recently held their annual Celebration of Life Memorial Service at Hesperia Community Church. Family members and staff gathered to share memories of their loved ones.

“‘Celebration of Life’ is a way for us to celebrate those whose lives we’ve helped and touched within the last year,” said Nelson.

“They’re gone but always here with us,” said Vick.

The hospice, located at 16147 Kamana Road, will be training volunteers in March. For more information about the support group, volunteering or hospice care, call (760) 946-4730 or visit www.CommunityHospiceVV.org.