Regional Health expands grief counseling program

January 3, 2019

NORTHERN HILLS — As part of its Home+ Hospice care program, Regional Health is expanding its grief counseling outreach.

“It goes back to our community investment,” said Patti Aurand, hospice chaplain and bereavement coordinator/social work associate with Regional Health. “What are we doing to make sure we’re taking care of people on all levels, on all spectrums.”

Aurand explained that Regional Health has offered grief counseling in Spearfish and Belle Fourche for some time; however, she saw a need in other communities throughout the Black Hills.

“Each of our communities (has) its own character,” she said. And (it’s important to be) in the communities where people are.”

Two new groups will be open to the public beginning this month. A group at Lead-Deadwood Regional Hospital will meet from 10:30-11:30 a.m. on the second and fourth Thursdays of every month. Another group will meet from 10:30-11:30 a.m. on the first and third Fridays of every month at the Sturgis Regional Hospital.

Aurand said that, although grief counseling is offered to those with loved ones undergoing health issues or the immediate loss of a loved one, it’s also open to anyone who is actively grieving.

“Typically we end up dealing with the issues more with bereavement, recognizing though, there can be different layers of loss,” she said.

Aurand said that dealing with grief could take much longer than simply dealing with the initial loss of a loved one.

“So they think they made it through that first Christmas, and they’re like, ‘Halleluiah, I don’t have to do that again,’ then the second one comes up and suddenly they’ve had the energy it takes to finally grieve appropriately, or they were in such shock that the second one suddenly hurts a whole lot more.”

The type of counseling Aurand is hoping to bring the community goes far beyond simply dealing with the death of a loved one. Aurand said she understands all the accompanying and lingering emotions that come with working through one’s grief.

“I know what it is to have your heart feel literal pain when it’s an emotional thing and like it is being pulled out of your chest, and not being able to breath, and wondering, ‘Will anything ever be OK again?’” she said. “And after going through some of those on my own, it’s nice to be able to go, ‘Yep, it sucks, but it can be done.’”

In addition to the open groups in Spearfish, Belle Fourche, Lead-Deadwood, and Sturgis, a more intimate eight-week course is also available for those dealing with a particularly difficult loss. The course is called “Understanding Your Grief” and is only open to eight participants.

“That one ends up being a little bit more work for folks,” Aurand said. “The thing I’ve loved about these materials is I see healing from the beginning to end, and even more importantly, the participants see healing.”

To register for the class, or for more information on grief groups, classes and resources, call Regional Health Home+ Hospice at 644-4415.

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