Our people in profile: Bereavement, grief and wellness coordinator Serena Lewis believes it ‘takes a village’ to support people who are dying
Bereavement, grief and wellness coordinator Serena Lewis applies a different lens to the familiar quote ‘It takes a village to raise a child.’
“I also recognize it takes a village to support people who are dying, which a palliative approach to care can offer,” she said.
When someone receives a life-limiting diagnosis it impacts more than the individual – it affects their family and friends.
“Grieving begins when we are faced with a diagnosis of any disease or illness, as we process what these changes mean within our lives,” explained Lewis.
“Throughout an illness we continue to navigate this process. Inevitably with any illness we become challenged to explore our own mortality.”
Lewis challenges people to think about death not as a medical event; but as a social and deeply personal part of an individual’s life.
The palliative approach to care includes managing symptoms, planning for the future, and addressing the physical, emotional, social and spiritual needs of patients and their families.
As a bereavement, grief and wellness coordinator, Lewis is part of the three palliative care teams in Northern Nova Scotia.
With a focus on community, she is looking broadly at the types of grief services offered and how patients and their families can access them.
Supporting the village philosophy, she is educating health care professionals and community-based agencies how to take a palliative approach to care.
“The more that we’re engaging with our community and health care teams, the more we’re really thinking about what that village means,” said Lewis.
When we have conversations with our village, it provides an opportunity to feel supported and the potential to create a more positive and realistic experience with dying.
“I think when you have a positive grief experience, you’ll take it forward with you for the next time you experience a death.”