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Compassion in community

Last Modified: March 31, 2024

Community, Cancer

Group meeting

On May 5, 2023, Sue and her husband, David visited the Parkview Ortho Express Walk-in Clinic due to his severe back pain. The physician scheduled David for an MRI, wrote a prescription for muscle relaxers and recommended they return for a follow-up visit the next week to go over his results.

“When we returned to the walk-in clinic to see the physician, he sent us straight to Parkview in Fort Wayne,” Sue said. “David’s pain wasn’t related to anything orthopedic. The physician saw what appeared to be lesions throughout his spinal column.”

This marked the beginning of their cancer journey. David was diagnosed with cancer in multiple bones, both lungs, his liver and brain. After several days spent in the hospital and a brief return home, he was admitted to Miller’s Merry Manor in Garret with Parkview Hospice. Given Sue’s 41-year tenure at Miller’s, selecting them for David’s care was a natural choice. She found comfort in knowing the nurses and staff would provide him with excellent care.

“My husband passed away six days later on June 16. The Parkview Hospice team, nurses, aides, social worker and chaplain were all very kind, caring and supportive. But now I was on a new journey,” Sue said.

Transitioning to life as a widow, Sue sought support through local bereavement services in Dekalb County. While Parkview Hospice provides several grief support groups in the surrounding counties, she desired a group close to home that offered evening meetings to fit her work schedule.

“There were only two grief support groups in Dekalb and only one had evening hours. I gave both a try, I even went a second time,” Sue said. “But neither of them was the right fit for me.”

Extending Support

The Parkview Hospice program offers its support to all loved ones of an individual who was served by the hospice and palliative care teams as well as to anyone in the community seeking solace. Spanning approximately 13 months, the program offers a variety of resources from quarterly newsletters to memorial events and services to individual or family counseling opportunities.

Sue said during this time, Cathy Petrie, LCSW, MSW, bereavement counselor, Parkview Hospice had been calling regularly and checking in on how she was doing. She expressed to Cathy her struggle to find a grief group to fit her needs. That is when Cathy suggested starting a support group in Dekalb County at Miller’s Merry Manor.

Once approved, Cathy and Angela Beer Walker, MSW, LSW, medical social worker, Parkview Hospice, got to work on setting up a schedule and contacting potential attendees.

Sue said her group consisted of two other widows who had also lost their husbands in the summer of 2023 as well as a gentleman whose wife passed away over a year ago, each of their spouses having died from cancer.

David and Sue Daniels

Community bonding

With the guidance of Cathy and Angie, the group bonded quickly over their similarities, and began working towards healing, each with a copy of “Understanding Your Grief” written by Dr. Alan Wolfelt.

“The book really spoke to all of us. It taught us how to manage our grief by dosing our pain, dissipated many of the misconceptions we had about grief and provided us with the promise that we were not going crazy by the methods we used to express our grief,” she said.

Individuals acclimating to life after experiencing the loss of a loved one may feel that those around them will grow weary of discussing the matter, creating a sense of isolation. Bereavement programs offer a vital outlet in a compassionate and inclusive environment that fosters healing and connection during a challenging time.

“I felt peace and security and almost always became tearful when I came into the room because I knew the others would not judge me and felt the same way that I did,” Sue said.

She encourages anyone coping with grief to reach out to Parkview Hospice and attend one of the support groups. She said although during their time together she would feel a surge of various emotions, the meetings ultimately became her safe place.

“Cathy and Angie are excellent facilitators. I found structure and support in the Parkview grief group,” Sue said. “We would uplift each other and discuss upcoming events that were difficult for us, birthdays, anniversaries, and such. Everyone had an opportunity to share.”

Additional support options

Whether coping with a recent loss or seeking ongoing support, exploring grief resources with Parkview Hospice can provide invaluable guidance, companionship and healing opportunities. For more information or to find a support group near you, call 260-373-9800.

For reading regarding grief and healing, the Parkview Hospice team recommends this Bereavement book guide.

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