From Social Worker to Bereavement Coordinator – Helping Others Find Their Voice
Julia Hayde became a social worker to serve as a voice for others. She discovered her passion in the hospice field and felt drawn to supporting families through loss because of her own experiences as a child. “I struggled to make peace with my own grief and wanted to turn this into a way to help others.”
Julia recalls her first time working with a woman after her husband had passed away. “As a social worker, I wanted to fix things and find solutions. If someone was crying, I wanted to find a way to make them feel better. On my first call with this woman, when this wasn’t the result I thought, ‘What did I do?’”
But Julia persisted and called this woman back time after time, seeing a gradual progression in the woman’s feelings about her loss. “A year later, she thanked me for never giving up on her and always calling her back, even when she was not in a good mood or feeling talkative. She appreciated me reaching out no matter what.”
The Value of Silence:
As a social worker Julia also learned the value of active listening in patient care and has carried this through to her role as a grief specialist. “I was visiting with a patient and his wife when his hospital bed arrived at home. I was thinking of all of the ways this bed was going to help him be more comfortable. But the first question he asked was, ‘How many people do you think have died in this bed?’ At that moment I simply took his hand, and he wept. It was the best thing I could have done to not say anything in that moment and try to talk him out of his fear of dying with facts about the benefits of hospital beds. I bring this to what I do now in my grief support groups at Crossroads. People give us logical explanations for grief, but we’re dealing with the heart, and sometimes grief doesn’t make sense. We don’t need to fill in the gap whenever there is silence. Just be with people in the moment.”
A New Relationship – Helping Loved Ones Regain Balance:
Julia joined the Crossroads Hospice team in Dayton in 2010. As Bereavement Coordinator she facilitates Grief Recovery Programs, which are twelve-week sessions throughout the region that are free and open to all community members who have experienced a variety of losses. She and her team also provide grief support throughout the community at area schools and correctional facilities; attend patients’ funerals with a special flower and card from Crossroads Hospice; organizes bi-annual memorial services for families; and provide grief support to staff.
Julia strives to help people develop a positive relationship with their loved one after his or her passing. “When we lose someone, our relationship sometimes becomes based on pain, believing that sorrow is the only way to keep that person in our lives. But this not what our loved ones would want, or what we deserve as individuals. We challenge people to create a new relationship with this person, drawing strength from positive memories.”
Julia described the concept of magical thinking, and prides herself in her ability to provide unconditional acceptance and support as people regain their balance. “We’re not as powerful as we think we are when it comes to controlling the destiny of others. We’re not that magical. You could have been the greatest caregiver on earth, but you could not have stopped death from taking your loved one. We hear a lot of regrets, about what people should have done or believe they could have prevented, but none of us has a crystal ball.”
Grief’s Timeless Course:
Julia shares with participants at each group that loss has no timeline. She recently worked with a woman whose seven-year-old son passed away over forty years ago. “At the time, the doctors had not allowed her to be present at his death. People around her had told her the best way to cope was not to mention him, so she never looked at pictures of her son and had a lot of regrets. We helped her work with one of our bereavement volunteers to create a journal with photos to share with her two sons. She told us after 40 years she’s finally feeling like a better person.”
Honoring Our Bereavement Coordinators – Locate Grief Recovery Programs in Your Area
We’re proud to honor Julia as our Crossroad Hospice “Staff Spotlight” recipient of the month and recognize her fellow Bereavement Coordinators who are providing grief support to our patients, families, staff and community members each day, such as: Sandra Karem (Atlanta); Stella Ruiz-Corporal (Lenexa); Lowry Whitehorn (Memphis); Vickie Mears (Kansas City); and Greg Volpitto (St. Louis). To locate a Grief Recovery Program in your area, visithttp://www.crossroadshospice.com/grief_support/.