Please join us in celebrating and thanking our (NEW) Bereavement Coordinator, Candyce Patterson, MS, CLC! Thank you Candyce and WELCOME TO LONGLEAF! We are glad you are here!
I have been married for 25 years and have a 24 year-old son and 16 year-old daughter.
When did you first realize you wanted to go into this line of work?
I have been in the counseling and mental health field for approximately 14 years. I began utilizing my program management and counseling skills in Hospice 8 years ago as a favor. What was supposed to be a 6-month assignment to help a Volunteer Program meet compliance turned into a love for bringing joy, peace and comfort to terminally ill patients and their families.
What about your job in this field brings you this most joy?
I enjoy helping others understand the grief process. Letting them know that it is “Okay to not be okay” and that you can smile and laugh simultaneously while broken hearted and sad. I feel the most joy when I can assist a patient or family take the focus off of the dying and/or death process, and to shift it to fond memories, accomplishments and the overall meaning of life.
What is the most challenging aspect of your job?
The most challenging part of the job is that while we would love every death to be a good death, some will not be, which can complicate the grief process for families. In these moments, you have to pull from your cup and offer them emotional support that exceeds your regular scope of services. You have to put in the extra effort to get them to trust you enough to allow you to assist in navigating the grieving process.
What would you say to someone wanting to go into the roles of spiritual/pastoral/bereavement support in the hospice setting?
What advice might you give them starting out? A common statement I hear is “I don’t know how you work in hospice.” My simple response is that it is a calling and a gift; therefore, there should be a natural love and compassion for individuals going through a crisis in their life. I feel volunteering in Patient Care and/or Bereavement is an excellent opportunity to determine if hospice is the right career setting for an individual.
Anything else you would like to share about your journey in the world of hospice?
Hospice is a special place in the medical scope of care. It is often misunderstood. In addition to serving families, I enjoy educating individuals on what the hospice benefit provides and how it contributes to quality of life for terminally ill patients and their families.