If you are LGBT and have experienced the recent loss of a loved one, Kansas City Hospice & Palliative Care wants to help you deal with your grief. The loss could be the death of a partner, a parent, a child, a sibling or a close friend -- anyone you consider to be family. The nonprofit health-care provider is reaching out to the LGBT community to address an unmet need.

Hospice will hold five grief-management group meetings from 6 to 7:30 p.m. Mondays, March 7 through April 4. The meetings are free, but telephone registration is required by Feb. 28. The group is designed for those in the first nine months to two years of the grieving process who are also at least two months out from the actual loss. During the registration phone call, a counselor will assess these parameters. Participants are expected to attend all five sessions.

Co-facilitators for the group will be Melissa Waugh, MS, and Susan Hutchison, MSW, LCSW. Participants will learn about grief itself and methods of coping with it, and the sessions will be in a small group environment, which has been shown to be therapeutic. All information shared among group members is to be considered confidential.

This outreach by Hospice is a way of helping the LGBT community deal with some special burdens that they might have when grieving. Family, society and religion, the very sources of comfort for many, have disenfranchised others in times of grief. Some LGBT persons have relationships that their families, churches or governments have never recognized. And in some cases, the people who are at the end of their lives � and the grievers � might not be out of the closet.

The program is supported through a grant from the Mary Susan Sanders and Katherine R. Neal Foundation.

One recent positive health-care move is the Jan. 18 implementation of federal regulations that protect same-sex couples from discrimination in hospital settings. At hospitals that accept Medicare and Medicaid, patients can now designate their own visitors.
Kansas City Hospice & Palliative Care
Kansas City Hospice & Palliative Care serves nine metro counties. Its staff focuses on the families of those in end-of-life processes to alleviate stress while providing comfort and care. Physicians, nurses, social workers and therapists of many sorts � including art and music � work as teams. Most care takes place in patients� homes, assisted living or nursing homes, but if that is unmanageable for a given situation, Hospice House, an inpatient facility, is available.

Hospice also operates Kansas City Palliative Medicine and Clinic for symptom management, Passages for counseling, Carousel for pediatric care and Solace House for grieving children and their families.

Hospice provides community services in several forms: through specialized, ongoing meetings, such as the LGBT group; through its African American Initiative and through referrals to the Grief Support Network, etc.

In addition to its paid staff, volunteers will often sit with patients and social workers may take care of many of the cumbersome medical forms from private insurance, Medicare and Medicaid.
Definitions
hospice: Health care for the terminally ill that emphasizes pain control and emotional support for the patient and family.
palliative care: Relieving or soothing the symptoms of a disease or disorder without effecting a cure.
Managing Early Grief for GLBT
6-7:30 p.m. Mondays
March 7-April 4
Meetings are free, but you must register by Feb. 28 by
calling Grief Support Services at 816-363-2600.
Kansas City Hospice & Palliative Care
9221 Ward Parkway, Suite 100
Kansas City, Mo.

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