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Frequently Asked Questions

Bereavement Committee

  1. What is Grief? 
  2. What is mourning? 
  3. How do I find a support group? 
  4. What is Palliative Care?
  5. What is Hospice?
  6. When my loved one is dying, how do I make arrangements?
  7. How Much does a funeral cost?
  8. What is an advanced care directive?
  9. What is a health care proxy?
  10. What is a MOLST? 

1. What is Grief?

Grief is one's emotional reaction to a loss of someone or something meaningful to you. A meaningful loss may include a person, animal, place, a way of life or good health. Grieving is the process of emotional adjustment a person goes through after experiencing a loss. Grieving a loved one who has passed is also known as bereavement.

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2. What is mourning?

The expression of deep sorrow for someone who has passed away is known as mourning. Mourning is also used to describe the cultural behaviors in which loved ones of the person who as died participate or are expected to participate in. For example, wearing black clothes or not cooking for a certain length of time. 

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3. How do I find a support group?

If you are searching for a support group to attend after experiencing a loss, speak directly with your physician or social worker to get information about possible local resources and support groups in your area. 

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4. What is palliative care?

Palliative care focuses special attention to the physical, psychological and spiritual needs of patients and their loved ones who are living with life-threatening illnesses. Comfort, preserving dignity and promoting quality of life are all important. Palliative care can be provided at any stage of illness and integrated with all other medical treatments. 

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5. What is hospice?

Hospice is a Medicare insurance benefit that provides a variety of services for patients )and their families) who have a life-limiting illness and have a prognosis of six months or less. Hospice services can be delivered in the home, nursing facility or in a designated hospice center. The philosophy of hospice is caring, not curing. Hospice is focused on preserving quality of life and comfort to people with a terminal condition. The decision about initiating hospice care, as well as determining where is should occur, is based on the patient's medical condition, the preferences of the patient and/or family, insurance options and the medical and nursing needs of the patient. 

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6. When my loves one is dying, how do I make arrangements?

If your loved one is dying and is a patient at Boston Medical Center, you can ask for help with this process from the social worker or case manager on the in-patient unit where your loved one is located. You can also begin contacting funeral homes who will speak with you about funeral arrangements and suggest the next steps that you should take. If your loved one is at home with hospice or in another facility, you can ask the professionals working with your loved one for assistance with preparation for a funeral or suitable memorial. The following links may also be helpful to you:

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7. How much does a funeral cost?

Funeral costs vary widely. Many families turn to a funeral home when planning a funeral. If you have not chosen a funeral home ahead of time, the Massachusetts Funeral Directors' Association can give you information on funeral homes in you area. They can be reached at 781-335-2031. A friend, family member or a member of the clergy may also provide you with a reference to a local funeral home. Families interested in off-setting costs may seek out local memorial societies, which are membership groups that can help with planning, support and may offer low-cost alternatives. Some insurance companies also assist with funds toward funerals and burial. Please call your loves one's insurance provider directly to see if this is a possibility.    

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8. What is an advanced care directive?

An advanced care directive involves designating a health care proxy, determining a patent or family's "Code Status choice" as it reflects that patient's care goals and ultimate goals of care. Ideally, an advanced care directive is created before a patient needs intensive medical care so that his or her wishes regarding end of life decisions, autonomy and resuscitation methods can be honored.  

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9. What is a health care proxy?

A health care proxy is an individual (often a family member or close friend) who the patient designates to make decisions regarding the patient's care if the patient is too sick or injured to do so. The best decisions a health care proxy can make are the ones that best reflect what the patient would choose for home or herself, if he or she was able to speak.     

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10. What is a MOLST?

Massachusetts Medical Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment (MOLST) is a state-wide medical form that is used to reflect patients' wishes for treatment when they are not able to voice their references. It specifies what, if any, life-sustaining treatments or types to administer of the need arises, based on the patient's or family's preferences. A MOLST form informs physicians of the patient's preferences concerning the use of CPR if they were to stop breathing and require emergency resuscitation, similar to  Do Not Resuscitate order. A MOLST is generally created when advanced care planning is discussed with a patient, family and clinical team. Use of a MOLST form is a voluntary decision made by the patient. 

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Contact Us

Call: 617.414.5442


Boston Medical Center
Bereavement Committee
Attn: Amanda Wright,
Social Work Supervisor
Menino Pavilion
840 Harrison Ave, Rm 5104
Boston, MA 02118
Amanda.Wright@bmc.org


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