Evening of Remembrance: Coping tips for families who have lost loved ones to cancer

March 1, 2015 | by Tracy Schuster

Evening of Remembrance City of Hope will host its inaugural Evening of Remembrance on March 12, 2015.

Patients undergoing treatment at City of Hope know they will be receiving the best medical care available, that their treatment will be delivered with compassion and that their care will extend to their families.

“When we treat a patient here, we treat a family,” says Jo Ann S. Namm, child life manager and specialist in the Department of Supportive Care Medicine. Sometimes, however, a patient dies. When this happens, City of Hope’s care for the family does not stop.

City of Hope’s commitment to the continuum of care ensures that the family is viewed as an extension of the patient. As a part of this commitment, City of Hope will hold an inaugural Evening of Remembrance on March 12 at 7 p.m. in the Duarte campus' Cooper Auditorium.

The American Psychological Association advises that, to move forward after the loss of a loved one, individuals and families should take time to honor the person they’ve lost. We agree.

The Evening of Remembrance will offer City of Hope families the chance to formally celebrate the lives of adult patients who have died over the past year. The event will provide a sense of community, remembrance rituals, testimonials and musical reflection.

According to the Rev. K. Virginia Christman, a chaplain in the Department of Supportive Care Medicine at City of Hope, the hope is that the evening allows a person’s internal grief to be made external so that it is no longer carried alone.

Some people, of course, may not be ready for a formal, or even an informal, ceremony. For those struggling simply to go on in the wake of a loved one’s death, the Department of Supportive Care Medicine recommends the following strategies to begin the healing process:

  • Give yourself permission to grieve by realizing that your feelings of loss are to be expected.
  • Establish a simple routine to help you get through the day.
  • Create a to-do list to ensure you accomplish some small things every day.
  • Eat, sleep and exercise (even if you don’t feel like it). These actions help you develop healthy habits during this very difficult time.
  • Avoid substance use (e.g. alcohol, caffeine, cigarettes). It won't help and can only harm.
  • If you are working, inform your employer of loved one’s death. He or she needs to understand what you’re facing.
  • Find someone who you can talk with or make an appointment to see a mental health professional if you are feeling overwhelmed. Having someone who understands what you’re going through can be vital.
  • Connect with loved ones. You need their comfort and support now more than ever.
City of Hope understands that the loss of a loved one can be overwhelming. The mix of emotions is confusing, and people often need more than lists and pamphlets to manage their grief. An evening of remembrance, whether at City of Hope with others or privately, can help.

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Learn more about becoming a patient or getting a second opinion at City of Hope by visiting our website or by calling 800-826-HOPE (4673). You may also request a new patient appointment online. City of Hope staff will explain what's required for a consult at City of Hope and help you determine, before you come in, whether or not your insurance will pay for the appointment.

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