Hospice of the Western Reserve becomes the first hospice in the US to deliver grief support via text message

This month, Hospice of the Western Reserve (HWR), became the first hospice in the U.S. to enhance existing grief support by adding text messaging as an option for the bereaved.

Under the leadership of President and CEO Bill Finn, Hospice of the Western Reserve is known for implementing new strategies that reflect today’s busy lifestyles and the range of ways people communicate. This includes expanding options for providing grief support to families after a death. The new service is being offered in partnership with Grief Coach, a Seattle-based company that is the first in North America to deliver grief support via text message.

"More than ever, it is critical that we find innovative new ways to care for people after a loss," says Finn. "I'm proud that our bereavement team will now be offering personalized, text-based support to the many hospice families we care for each year. This is in addition to the services we currently provide, such as individual counseling, a variety of grief support groups, literature, newsletters and online resources. Knowing that every one of our bereaved family members now has the opportunity to receive support every week, all year long, is wonderful. Grief Coach also creates a brand new communication and outreach channel for us at a time that many of our more traditional ways of providing in-person grief support are on hold due to the COVID crisis."

Hospice of the Western Reserve is a recognized leader in the provision of hospice care in the U.S. Their 15-person bereavement team provides grief support services for over 6,000 hospice families every year, as well as for the community at large. Last week, the team received training in how to introduce the new texting service to their clients, with each Bereavement Coordinator also invited to sign up so they could experience the texts firsthand.

Diane Snyder Cowan has been the Director of the Western Reserve Grief Services of Hospice of the Western Reserve since 2001. She oversees the agency’s bereavement programs and also leads the Bereavement Professionals community of the National Council of Hospice and Palliative Professionals. Diane first learned about Grief Coach in December, and was immediately impressed by the carefully crafted, thoughtful and personal texts being delivered to people grieving suicide, cancer, overdose, stillbirth and many other deaths.

"I've been doing this work for a long time, Diane said," and I know the challenges that hospices and other organizations face in needing to support thousands of grieving families. We don't always know if people open the mailers we send them, and with COVID limitations, our in-person visits and support groups are temporarily suspended. It’s wonderful that these caring, well-timed personal messages can now go out to all of our families, and that they can add in their friends and family, too. Grief Coach gives our Bereavement Coordinators a simple, beautiful way to ensure that none of our family members have to grieve alone."

Emma Payne, Grief Coach's Founder and CEO, is thrilled that her company is working with the team at Hospice of the Western Reserve. "I’m honored to be working with this experienced, compassionate team,” she says. “Bereavement Coordinators work so hard to provide care and support after a loss, so I love that Grief Coach makes it easy for them to connect with grieving families, and to reach them more often. We sent texts at least twice a week, for 13 months, because grief lasts a long time.”

Next month Finn, Snyder-Cowan and their team will extend the Grief Coach service to five other hospices in Ohio who participate as members of the Care Solutions Network of Ohio.

About Hospice of the Western Reserve
Hospice of the Western Reserve provides palliative and end-of-life care, caregiver support, and bereavement services throughout Northern Ohio. In celebration of the individual worth of each life, we strive to relieve suffering, enhance comfort, promote quality of life, foster choice in end- of-life care, and support effective grieving. To learn more, visit Hospice of the Western Reserve.

About Grief Coach
Grief Coach sends personalized text messages to help people after someone dies. Grieving people receive resources and tips all year long to help them feel less alone. If they have friends and family who want to help but aren't sure how, Grief Coach texts them suggestions too. Grief Coach also works with nonprofits, hospices, tissue banks, employers, and others who provide bereavement support. To learn more, visit Grief Coach.

For more information, please contact:

Laurie Henrichsen
Media-Public Relations Manager
Hospice of the Western Reserve

Emma Payne
Founder & CEO
Grief Coach PBC

Next My heart is as full as my inbox