“Porch Pick-up” Program Supports Grieving Families During Holidays

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Chaplain Bill Hesse believes that providing support for those who have recently lost a loved one is essential. “Death takes the body, but the relationship keeps going – we want to honor that,” Hesse said.

Spartanburg Regional Hospice’s team recognizes that the holidays can be a particularly difficult time for grieving families. Holidays bring special memories of loved ones.

“And so many holiday traditions are based on everyone being together,” he said.

To provide support and encouragement, Spartanburg Regional Hospice hosted a “porch pick-up” in mid-December.

Participants in the drive-thru event, held at the Spartanburg Regional Hospice Home, received gift bags with treats and ideas for the holidays. Each bag included an ornament in which family members could place an item to honor their loved one – a fishing lure, a golf ball, a small photograph, a piece of clothing or other memento.

“It’s a way to memorialize their relationship during the holidays,” Hesse said.

The bags also included a pamphlet titled “Keys to Coping with the Holidays.” It features inspirational poems and quotes along with self-care tips and suggestions for new holiday routines and symbolic rituals.

Spartanburg Regional Foundation’s Hospice Special Needs Fund covered the cost of the gift bags.

Hesse and other hospice team members provide bereavement support throughout the year.

The pick-up event, developed with COVID-19 safety protocols in mind, was an important opportunity to make a face-to-face connection, Hesse said. Contacting bereaved family members routinely by phone has been an important way to stay in touch during the pandemic, but this was an opportunity “to see their eyes, to observe their body language.”

Hesse kept a list of attendees and made notes about how they were getting along. He will use this information to prepare for follow-up contact.

Colette Couch, whose husband Bill passed away last summer, stopped by the porch pick-up and said she appreciates the efforts of hospice chaplains and social workers to provide support.

“They’re not pushy about it,” she said. “But knowing they are here if I need it is a comfort.”

Dorothy Josey also attended the event. Her husband, Julian Josey, MD, passed away in the spring at the Spartanburg Regional Hospice Home. He was instrumental in the creation of the health system’s hospice program in the 1980s, and the Joseys have been strong supporters over the years.

“The hospice home is a like a little glimpse of heaven,” Josey said.  She, too, said she’s grateful for the ongoing support of the hospice team. “They’re so attentive and kind and nurturing.”

Spartanburg Regional Foundation’s Hospice Special Needs Fund provides support for bereavement programs, direct assistance for financially qualifying patients, and special occasions that bring families together to create memories. To make a gift to the fund, visit https://www.regionalfoundation.com/ways-give/hospice.

Written by Baker Maultsby, Discover Health Blog.