As a bereavement counselor co-facilitating groups with esteemed coleague, Chaplain Bill, we deal in the realm of legacy frequently. Providing a safe place for grief work to take place, we've sat in sacred company with precious people who have experience the death of a loved one. Remembering loved ones is both painful and enriching, wrought with feelings of deep sadness and profound love. Grief is holding the love and the painful loss in the same space.
Hospice of the Valleys bereavement program has been blessed with the dynamic duo of supervisors, Dr. Lynn Euzenas and Celeste Preble. Under their leadership the bereavement support of our organization has grown deeper and wider .And while we continue to enjoy the benefits of Celest's super vision, Dr. Lynn's retirement has left me pondering her legacy. Three things stand out in my thinking.
The legacy of listening. Dr. Lynn has taught us to be good listeners. The lesson of enduring awkward silences and patiently waiting for thoughts and stories to formulate is one we use regularly. Stories that connect deeply with the loved one who has died often emerge from the endured silence. This practice of giving the space and grace necessary to gather thoughts and articulate feelings rather than rescue them from the uncomfortable is a typical "Dr. Lynn lesson."
The legacy of laughing. Dr. Lynn has taught us to use humor, even in the bereavement group setting. This must be done with great care and not at all for the benefit of the facilitator, but always for the good of the group. Sometimes it is the blatantly obvious humor that is in the room, or sometimes it is what someone says about their loved one that tickles everyone's funny bone, but laugher always has the potential positively affecting its subjects. Mourners are human and laugher is good for the soul.
The legacy of loving. Dr. Lynn has taught us that being human is good enough for being loved. Our bereavement groups are attended by human beings with hurting hearts because of the death of a very important person in their life. When I act in the best interest of the mourner, I am loving them in the most profound way. Love-informed actions, through active listening, undivided attention and a heart open to and led by "Love" have made our groups as good as any available.
Dr. Lynn's legacy of love, laughter and listening have kept our bereavement program on a straight course and her leadership in both Spiritual Care and Bereavement have been foundational to Hospice of the Valleys' elite status as an outstanding hospice agency and a great place to work. I wish Dr. Lynn the happiest of retirements and the satisfaction of leaving a brilliant legacy.
Thank you Lynn!