Helping Hands in the Bereavement Process - Valley News Live - KVLY/KXJB - Fargo/Grand Forks

Helping Hands in the Bereavement Process

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Wednesday night we told you about a Fargo program working to make sure no one dies alone, but once death comes, those left behind must deal with the emptiness and grief that sets in.

So we at Valley News Live asked, who is there to help when the one you love is gone?

Hope Hanselman met oneman in his process of bereavement and the people helping those like him along their journey.

To that corner of the universe where all things lost eventually turn up, one Spring Kevin Carlson found a stained glass window.

"On April 4, 2012, she had a sudden heart attack and stroke," Kevin shared as he sat alone in a church pew.

It was the day he lost his mother.

Months before he sat where so many others do, under unexpected condition, but with unexpected help.

Because, when it seems life has lost all its color, the nurses at Sanford Hospital spread a touch of home.

"We try to be there for them and make it as easy as possible but we know it can't be easy," Karin Ellermoe, Registered Nurse, said.

Behind each of these doors, fleeting moments await. Except one.

Nurses call it the "bereavement closet." It's where they've folded and stacked blankets, lotions, journals and (not at all your typical) hospital food.

"It just takes some of the industry and some of the organization away and just makes it a more relaxing environment.

With their efforts, they're muting the sounds and- somehow- the pain.

"Usually when someone goes to the hospital and is sick you expect him to return home," Marly Ellefson, a widow, said as she rocked in her chair. "And he never did."

Marlys left the hospital four years ago, without her husband.

She's well into what Kevin is learning will be a long journey.

"It meant I wasn't going to the nursing home to visit any more," she said. "There's things that are faith-related that the psychologist didn't talk about and I needed the faith one."

For three years, Marlys keeps coming back to her local support group, reading the same lessons, but discovering new answers.

"Your kinds of needs change, your situation changes and you age differently," she said. Marlys encourages all her group members to keep coming back the way she does.

Time moves them forward. Now, Kevin carries new photos.

"Even during the work week it was nice to sometimes look at a photo of where I was during the week," he said, flipping through photos on his phone of the stained glass windows in the church.

They've become his windows into this land of the lost, which is where he'll find his way back.

"In a way, I know that she wouldn't have wanted to live in a way that was difficult for her, so I think it's best that she had passed."

Everyone starts the process in a different way.

To learn more about Marlys's support group, Griefshare, click here.

For information on Hospice grief support, click here.

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