Local hospice to host community events

By: Elizabeth Scussel | Birmingham - Bloomfield Eagle | Published September 7, 2015


Grief is a part of life.

Recognizing and acknowledging grief in the proper way is vital. When the end-of-life process is slow, grief can begin early and hang around, as is the case with many hospice patients.

Paul Ikonen, volunteer coordinator at Hospice Advantage in Bingham Farms, said many people wait until the last minute to utilize hospice services for their loved ones.

“People do this because acknowledging this stage is difficult for people. At Hospice Advantage, we can improve quality of life and help alleviate pain and symptoms. Don’t wait until the symptoms are out of control,” he said. “Birth is natural and death is natural. You can’t escape end of life.”

When it comes to grieving children, it’s important to set the right example, he said.

“Most parents think, ‘I have to be the strong one.’ But showing your grief teaches them that they don’t need to push their feelings down either,” he said, adding that his biggest piece of advice to parents of grieving children is to not be afraid to grieve in front of them.

“Grief is a lifelong thing. It won’t go away, and it’s important children know how to deal with it.”

On Sept. 26, Hospice Advantage is inviting children to its annual Camp Good Grief. The free therapeutic day camp is open to children ages 5-17 who have suffered the loss of a loved one.

Youth will have the opportunity to take part in an array of activities noon-6:30 p.m. in order to decompress, unwind and cope.

“Children don’t have the skills or the vocabulary to understand their feelings. As adults, we have felt these things before. This camp gives children the outlet, and they see that they’re not alone. It helps with coping and expression,” said Sharon Edwards, a social worker at Hospice Advantage.

Camp Good Grief, she said, is a great community program for all grieving children.

“It’s a good way to help each other through these things. It gives children the tools to cope.”

While parents are able to hang around during the camp, they are encouraged to just drop their children off, as it’s not beneficial for the small group layout of the camp.

Camp Good Grief will be held at the Kulick Community Center, located at 1201 Livernois St. in Ferndale. Space is limited. To register or for more information, call (248) 440-1301 or email pikonen@hos piceadvantage.com.

On Oct. 3, Hospice Advantage is inviting the entire community to take a trek to Belle Isle and participate in the Halos for Hospice 5K Run and Family Walk. The event also includes a special 10K handcycling division for those without the use of their legs.

The cost for the 5K is $35-$45, or free for children under the age of 12. Registration for the 10K handcycling division is free for the first 30 participants, and $30-$35 thereafter. To register for the Halos for Hospice 5K or 10K, visit www.halosforhospice.com.

For more information, call (248) 440-1301 or email pikonen@hospiceadvantage.com.

Proceeds from both events will benefit the efforts of the Hospice Angels Foundation.