Ties That Bond
After eight years, when Geraldine Yurcak’s ovarian cancer became too much, she asked her husband, John, to take her home so she could die comfortably, surrounded by her loved ones. It was then that John signed his wife onto Arbor Hospice’s care, only for Geraldine to pass away a day later. While it had been apparent to John that she was nearing the end of her journey, he regrets not having the conversation sooner.
“We never talked about death,” John said. “I wish we would have. I wish I knew what she wanted, what she was thinking, and that’s something I need to work through.”
That’s where Arbor Hospice’s grief support programs come in. Although John’s wife was only on Arbor Hospice’s service for a day, John has been invited, and welcomed, into Arbor Hospice’s grief support programs, just like every community member, whether or not a loved one has received care from Arbor Hospice.
“My friends told me I should join a support group,” John said, “but, I really needed some arm-twisting to make it happen. I kept receiving phone calls from Arbor Hospice’s grief support coordinator and I finally decided I should at least try it.”
It’s a decision John does not regret – by the second session, he was glad he went. According to John, there was nothing the program overlooked, and while the eight-week spousal loss program ended more than a year ago, John and six of the other attendees remain in touch. In fact, each Friday they join John and his family for dinner and drinks. It’s a tradition John and Geraldine began many years ago – dinner and drinks with extended family on Friday nights. Although it was difficult to continue after his wife’s passing, John maintained the tradition.
“We’d talk about the anger and sadness we all felt,” John says of discussions in the Arbor Hospice support group. “It was good to hear what we were experiencing is normal, and we bonded over that. I realized we were all going through the same thing, and suddenly, living alone, so I invited everyone to my Friday dinners. Now, they’re all part of my extended family – I’m their brother.”
One dinner turned into two, then ten and now there’s too many to count. John and the other attendees routinely talk on the phone, and support each other when needed. In fact, John, his family and his new extended family are planning to participate in an upcoming fundraiser to benefit ovarian cancer research – all in memory of John’s wife, Geraldine.
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