What I Learned As a Grief Counseling Intern at Gilchrist
As a second-year Master of Social Work (MSW) student at the University of Maryland, Baltimore, I knew Gilchrist’s Counseling & Support department would be a perfect match for me as a Grief Counseling Intern. In fact, as one of the leading hospice organizations in Maryland, Gilchrist was my first choice. I decided to choose Gilchrist’s Grief Counseling department because I knew I would be given an opportunity to learn about grief counselling and facilitating support groups.
In my nine months with Gilchrist, I have had numerous opportunities to provide grief support and to participate in some of their special events. Wellness Day and Twilight in the Woods are two of the many amazing grief events that Gilchrist hosts within the community. I also assisted with grief workshops, helping bereaved clients through healing activities such as making a keepsake and memorializing their loved ones. These workshops and all of Gilchrist’s bereavement services are available to not only people who have lost someone under Gilchrist, but also community clients whose loved ones did not use our services.
The bereavement staff have challenged and encouraged me to get out of my comfort zone. I was encouraged to join bereavement counselors in planning and implementing a presentation to school crisis responders around self-care. During the last month of my internship, I co-facilitated a spousal loss group with another grief counseling intern. The support group has offered me the experience of working with a small group, while learning from the participants about their caregiving experience and grief journey.
Through my experience counseling and calling clients, I can truly say there is no set way to grieve. Clients can only define their own feelings regarding the death of their loved one. All people grieve differently. I have learned the differences between adaptive grieving and complicated grief, and how to counsel clients who have anticipatory grief about the nearing of their loved one’s death. Gilchrist has taught me to encourage clients to lean into their grief, which can help them heal over time.
I have been given a wealth of resources such as books, handouts, and information that I will share with my family, friends, and future clients. Gilchrist has provided me with both the knowledge and practice of grief and loss counseling. I now feel better equipped to address some of the grief counseling and support needs for my future clients.