With November serving as National Home Care and Hospice Month, Valley Baptist Health System continues to offer resources for those in the community who may be struggling with grief.
Joe Perez, Vice President of Mission & Ministry for Valley Baptist Health System, said that his years of serving as a chaplain have helped prepare him to help others cope with grief and loss.
“In 1992 I served as pastoral coordinator for the Sandi Jo Funk Hospice of Valley Baptist Medical Center,” he said. “It was my first full-time chaplaincy role and the springboard of my career as a professional spiritual caregiver. I had no clue that it was going to change my life for the better, but it did, and I am grateful for the experience. It opened me to the mystery of life and illness and set a foundation for continued learning and growth.”
During his time of serving as a spiritual caregiver, Perez said he has been able learn much about grief and the grieving process that he has used to help others, including:
- Life is precious, and we never know when our time on earth will end. So, let us take great care of our relationships, because for when we are on our death bed, these relationships will be the only thing that matter.
- Dying is normal, and to be born is to have to die. Preparing for it is always better than not preparing.
- Grief can’t be avoided in life, and learning how our bodies grieve is a great resource that will help us in facing the challenges and loses of life, as well as a source that keeps us resilient through life.
- Sadness deepens the heart, and avoiding the natural sadness of life will also lessen our joy.
- Time does not heal grief (a great American myth). It is proper attention over time that leads to healthy coping through the journey of grief. Mourning is the proper attention.
- Looking for grief to get easier is not helpful. We must look to gain strength to carry the memories of our loved ones well. Mourning is the way we gain strength.
- Holistic community breeds holistic health and creates safe places for mourning. Good hospices create this holistic community around their patients and their families, empowering them to walk the end-of-life journey.
- Most unsolicited advice given to the grieving and dying is judgmental, coming from people who are uncomfortable with the emotions and experiences of the end-of-life experience.
- Many shy away from the sadness that comes from end-of-life experiences. When sadness comes, love shows up most of the time. That love endures and is resilient, creating something beautiful for those who can see.
For those working through the grieving process, Valley Baptist-Harlingen’s Pastoral Services Department also offers the following support groups that are free and open to the public:
- Bereavement support groups at both Valley Baptist-Harlingen and Valley Baptist-Brownsville
- Compassionate friends support group at Valley Baptist-Harlingen
- Bereavement support group for parents who have experienced pregnancy loss at Valley Baptist-Harlingen
- Suicide support group at Valley Baptist-Harlingen
For more information on the service of remembrance or any of the support groups listed, call the Valley Baptist Pastoral Services Department at (956) 389-1194.