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What is spiritual support?

In the final months of life, it is common for spiritual questions and concerns to surface. While it’s unique to each person, spirituality often includes our thoughts about meaning, purpose, beliefs and values, and our relationship with self, others, nature, the universe and God or a higher power.

Having spiritual support at the end of life is one of the key benefits of hospice care, because spirituality can have a powerful effect on a person’s health and quality of life. Each Agrace care team includes an experienced spiritual & grief counselor, who provides both spiritual care and grief support to the hospice patient and their family and friends, as needed or requested.

Agrace serves people of all faith traditions and spiritual practices, including those who are not religious. Our spiritual & grief counselors do not promote any specific faith tradition or religious beliefs. Our care is guided by our patient’s and their family’s beliefs, needs and requests. We strive to offer support that is meaningful and comforting.


How does spiritual support help?

Spiritual support is for the person who’s on hospice, and also those who will survive them. Either may ask for a visit from an Agrace spiritual & grief counselor. Here’s how we help:

  • We actively listen, to help you deal with feelings like sadness, regret, fear, loss, forgiveness, despair or anger.
  • We can talk with you about spiritual or religious questions of belief.
  • We can offer rituals, blessings and prayers from a spiritual, religious or humanist perspective.
  • We can help you and your family connect with your faith community or spiritual leader.
  • We can offer spiritual and emotional support to family members as a person is actively dying and in the difficult hours and days after the death.
  • We lead memorial services for our patients, if we are asked and are available.

Agrace’s grief support for surviving family members lasts for a year after the death, and includes phone calls, individual counseling, mailings of helpful material and grief support groups.


Spiritual Support for Agrace’s Long-term Care Partners

Agrace partners with hundreds of skilled nursing and assisted living centers in our service area to provide hospice services to their residents. Our spiritual & grief counselors are available to help support the staff in our contracted facilities.

What can leaders of a long-term care facility do to help when residents or staff are grieving the death of a resident? 

  • Have a memorial service: Invite the residents and staff who share the loss to come together and share memories of the person whose absence they are grieving. One of the keys to getting through a loss is for it to be acknowledged. When the person who died is never mentioned again, others feel the person has been “erased,” and their friends or caregivers may feel the loss more intensely.
  • Ask for an in-service from Agrace: One of our community grief specialists can meet with your staff and/or residents to teach about healthy ways to cope with grief. This is one of many professional in-services Agrace offers. Ask your Agrace outreach liaison for information or help scheduling a speaker.

Experienced Spiritual & Grief Counselors

  • Susan Shands, Spiritual & Grief Counselor14 professional spiritual & grief counselors available to support Agrace patients and their family members & friends, before and after the patient’s death
  • 9 counselors ordained in Lutheran, United Church of Christ, Baptist traditions
  • 11 counselors have earned 4 or more units in clinical pastoral education (CPE) from accredited institutions; others have advanced degrees in social work or counseling
  • 4 community grief specialists  who run the new Grief Center in Fitchburg and meet 1:1 with grieving people






Agrace HospiceCare patients or their families can request a visit from a spiritual & grief counselor by asking their nurse or social worker. We invite you to call us on for support!