The Bereavement Committee oversees a variety of social services to for grieving individuals. Programs are designed for children as well as adults who are facing the loss of a loved one.

Advocates for Advanced Care Planning within BMC and community

Advanced care planning (ACP) is the process of discussing a patient’s values and goals of medical care. It includes helping patients and family members to record the patient’s preferences for care should they become too ill to speak for themselves. The process includes opening discussions about signing a HealthCare Proxy, which is a document that appoints a person to speak for and to make decisions about care if or when a patient is no longer able to speak for him/or herself.

Critical Incident Stress Debriefings

Members of the bereavement committee, in collaboration with the social work department, are available to facilitate meetings for staff members who have been involved in a traumatic event. Called “critical incident stress debriefings,” these sessions are designed to reduce the distress that staff may be feeling in the wake of a traumatic event and to restore group cohesion and unit performance. This intervention is only used in the immediate aftermath of a traumatic event that has generated strong reactions among staff in a particular work group.

For more information about debriefings or to request one for your area, please contact Katie Collins at

Compassionate Companion Program

The newest volunteer initiative is The Compassionate Companion Program involving volunteers who are available on request to provide a comforting presence to patients who are dying alone or whose families or friends are unable to be present. The program offers patients the opportunity for companionship and a supportive presence at end of their lives. The program is also designed to offer respite and relief to a family members and friends who are unable to provide round-the-clock companionship. The volunteers also provide support to staff caring for patients with no family present by providing a voluntary 24-hour vigil at the patient’s bedside.

If you would like to volunteer for the program or learn about the requirements for BMC employees, please contact Amanda Wright, Social Work Supervisor, at or Lisa Manganiello, LICSW at

If you are interested in activating a vigil and referring a patient please page 617-638-5795 Pager ID #2120.

Organize Annual Memorial Service

The Bereavement Committee will be hosting the 1st annual memorial service in 2014 to honor those patients who have died during the previous year. For more information please contact Amanda Wright, Social Work Supervisor, at


Bereavement Committee members come from several disciplines within the medical center and the committee collaborates with a variety of departments on other projects and programs. These collaborations include:

Care Management Social Work

Social workers are available in most areas of the hospital to help patients and their families deal with the broad range of psychological issues and stress related to coping with illness and maintaining health. BMC’s social workers are licensed, master’s level, mental professionals trained to help people find solutions to problems ranging from daily challenges to life's most difficult situations.

They use a unique combination of skills, including psychotherapy, active problem solving and direct connection with a network of community resources. Social workers are an integral part of the multidisciplinary team, ensure a holistic approach to health care. They can also assist patients effectively communicate with their health care providers, as well as gaining access to hospital and local community-based resources.

Social workers at BMC meet with patients of all ages and cultural backgrounds. They can also provide access to interpreters to speak with patients in their native languages.
To contact a social worker, please visit

Palliative Care

Palliative Care is a clinical specialty that helps patients and their families live as well as they can when facing a serious or life-threatening condition. The palliative care team of physicians and a nurse focuses their attention on the physical, psychological, and spiritual needs of patients and their loved ones who are living with chronic and/or life-limiting illnesses. Palliative care, consisting of symptom-management, including pain control, preserving dignity and promoting quality of life, can be provided at any stage of illness and integrated with other medical treatments. The Palliative Care team works with the medical team on various issues including:

  • Pain management
  • Other symptoms such as dyspnea, nausea/vomiting, anxiety, insomnia, delirium, fatigue
  • End-of-life care
  • Convening family meetings
  • Clarifying goals of care

To contact a Palliative Care practitioner, please page ID #0179.

Spiritual Care Department

As members of the hospital's interdisciplinary team, chaplains respond to the spiritual, emotional and religious needs of patients, families and staff. They are trained to provide support to people of all faiths or of no faith.

  • Chaplains are on call 24 hours a day. They respond to inpatient and outpatient referrals. They perform baptisms, baby namings, blessings, marriages, and end-of-life rituals or memorial services.
  • Chaplains are also available for consultation and in-service presentations for staff to provide religious and culturally sensitive care for patients.
  • Chaplains provide support to patients and families making difficult life decisions or experiencing traumatic events.