Grief Week events help faculty, staff acknowledge and address loss

May 9, 2017  //  FOUND IN: Updates & Resources,

Next week is Grief Awareness Week at Michigan Medicine, an annual series of events, presentations and unit-based activities that help faculty and staff acknowledge and address losses in their professional or personal lives.

“As health care professionals, everybody here goes through grief in some form or another,” said Kathy Allen, an administrative health specialist and registered nurse on the ambulatory care transplant team and Grief Week committee member.

“Whether it’s losing a loved one in your family or a patient you cared for on your unit — or seeing a patient come to terms with a difficult diagnosis or even dealing with something like a divorce in your personal life — it’s so important to get the support you need to make the best out of a difficult situation. That’s why I have found Grief Week to be so important in my life.”

Allen has first-hand experience with grief and the valuable resources offered at Michigan Medicine. In 2014, Allen lost her 26-year-old son, Tell, following a motorcycle accident.

“While it was incredibly hard to come to terms with his death, I had such incredible support from my coworkers,” Allen said. “They let me step out of the office when I needed to or just talk to them when I needed to.”

She also attended Grief Week events, where faculty and staff are encouraged to embrace their emotions.

“I came to realize just how important our colleagues in spiritual care and social work are,” Allen said. “Grief Week exposed me to so many special people who help patients and staff members manage loss every day.”

It was at that point that Allen decided she wanted to play a larger role in helping coworkers deal with grief. She eventually joined the Grief Week planning committee, which organized many of next week’s events. The activities aim to help solidify a culture at Michigan Medicine that is open to acknowledging grief and the emotions that come with it.

“Health care can be so emotionally challenging because we’re all dedicated to helping those who are most vulnerable,” Allen said. “By attending Grief Week events, you will see how well supported you are by both your organization and your colleagues. And you will learn the tools you need to care for yourself or your coworkers in a time of need.”

All Grief Week events are free and open to any member of the Michigan Medicine community. Here are some highlights:

  • Schwartz Rounds, “The Cost of Caring: When Empathy Hurts”: Noon – 1 p.m., Monday, May 15, Ford Auditorium
  • Patient and Family-Centered Care family panel, “Grief and Gratitude”: 2 p.m. – 3 p.m., Tuesday, May 16, Danto Auditorium
  • Nursing contact and social work continuing education hours are offered for the following activities:
    • Determinants of Grief: 9 a.m. – 10 a.m., Wednesday, May 17, Ford Auditorium
    • Walking Each Other Home: Being Partners in Grief: 1 p.m. – 2:30 p.m., Thursday, May 18, Ford Auditorium
    • Funeral Customs and Rituals: Ways to Say Goodbye: 10 a.m. – 12:15 p.m., Friday, May 19, MCHC Auditorium (lunch included at conclusion of presentation)

For more information, visit the Grief Week website or click here for a detailed listing of events.