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Remembering a loved one

There were a few smiles and a few tears Tuesday night as dozensof balloons were released into the skies above Chautauqua Park inBeatrice. Each balloon carried a special message to a recently lost lovedone. Cindy Fletcher, whose grandma recently passed away, wrote: “Youwill always be in my heart. I love and miss you very muchgrandma.” AseraCare Hospice holds a bereavement picnic once a year to honorthose who have died in the last year. It gives the families ofhospice patients and the hospice staff a chance to reconnect. Hospice takes care of individuals who are nearing the end of theirlife, when their life expectancy is less than six months. They helppatients in a variety of ways depending on their needs. “Sometimes we find folks that have been ill for a while thathaven’t been to church,” said provider relations mManager LoriJohnson. “We can bridge those gaps. Maybe they haven’t talked toone of their family members in a while and we can help them getreacquainted with that family member before they pass on.” Jeannie Schlotfeld, social worker and bereavement coordinator, saidpart of AseraCare’s mission is to create a culture that isdedicated to the alleviation of human suffering, which findsexpression through ongoing gentle acts of kindness, sympathy andcompassion. “The bereavement program seeks to fulfill that mission by providingcompassionate service to hospice patients’ loved ones for 13 monthsafter a death,” Schlotfeld said. “These services include phonecalls, mailings, grief support groups, spiritual support andremembrance events such as the picnic and a holiday openhouse.” Roberta Smith, her sister Georgia Spier and niece DaVena Stege alllost their husbands in the last year. Two of which were in hospicecare. “We’re here to honor all three of them,” Smith said. “The three ofus went to grief support together at the hospital and have all beensupportive of each other because it all happened within so manymonths of one another. And this (hospice) group did a wonderful jobwith my sister’s husband and they gave him the best care so he feltnothing.” Jana Fletcher lost her mom, Janice Rainey, about three and a halfmonths ago. Fletcher said she was a good mom and a goodgrandma. “The care she received from the hospice workers was wonderful,”Fletcher said. “And she was a strong woman, even though she was asick. We miss her very much.”

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