Navigating through grief with Arbor Grief Support

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 Grief Support programs came in. Although John’s wife was only on Arbor Hospice’s service for a day, John was 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. According to John, there was nothing the program overlooked. After the eight-week spousal loss program ended, John and six of the other attendees remained 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 Grief 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. Now, they’re all part of my extended family – I’m their brother.”