Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Another Sean story

This Friday I'll meet with Sharon to start bereavement counseling with her. They don't typically let hospice social workers provide bereavement care. Once a patient dies, their family is followed by the bereavement department for a year, through letters, phone calls, and counseling or support groups as needed. Every once in awhile it makes more sense for the social worker to continue with the bereaved party based on the strength of the connection made while their loved one was on hospice, instead of turning them over to someone else. Our most excellent bereavement coordinator Peter agreed that I could stick with Sharon. While we won't be able to continue our weekly coffee meetings, we'll probably meet once or twice a month. I know she's really glad that I can stay involved with her in this way, especially as so many of her routines are changing now that Sean is gone.

Sean's funeral service was over the weekend and I was not able to go as I was visiting my best friend in Nashville. I was disappointed that I missed out on an opportunity to celebrate Sean's life. I don't go to too many wakes or funerals for my patients (not enough time generally) but I had definitely wanted to be there for Sean's family and for myself. I wouldn't have traded my time in Nashville for anything though! Instead I called Sharon on Monday to check in and set up a time for our first bereavement visit. After chatting for awhile, she shared a cool story. She had gone to the cemetery that morning to hang a shepherd's hook and windchime. The cemetery is privately-owned so families are able to be more creative about what they put up at the grave. Sean always had a thing about hawks. Whenever Sharon would take him anywhere after he was diagnosed, he always saw a hawk. There was even one hawk in particular that Sean designated as HIS hawk because of how frequently he would spy it watching over him. Sharon said that she put the shepherd's hook in the ground and when she turned around to hang the windchime on it, there were 2 hawks sitting on top of the hook! She could not believe it! In her typical humor, she greeted the hawk saying, "Hi Sean. So you found a new girlfriend already?" Sharon was immensely comforted by this connection and I was pretty amazed myself.

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