Tom Haller said the nurses, chaplains and social workers at Hope Hospice provided compassionate end-of-life care for his late wife Robin and support to him as a caregiver.

Haller said Robin “had phenomenal care,” and after her death he participated in Hope Hospice’s grief counseling program.

“I knew I was not going to be able to move forward unless I had somebody holding my hand along the way,” Haller said. “I met weekly with a counselor...It was a chance to just sit and talk... [My counselor said,] ‘You need to deal with grief in your own way.’ It’s very beneficial.”

Hope Hospice was founded in 1984 as a non-profit hospice by a group of community members who wanted to provide individuals in the New Braunfels community with dignity and care at the end of their lives. The organization has since expanded and now serves ten counties: Comal, Guadalupe, Wilson, Travis, Kendall, Hays, Gonzales, Blanco, Bexar and Caldwell.

Hope Hospice offers both hospice and palliative care for individuals living with a chronic illness. Through fundraising events and the organization's thrift shop, Hope Hospice is able to provide care for all individuals, whether or not they have insurance. Additionally, Hope Hospice provides end-of-life care to Veterans, honoring their service with special ceremonies and unique care for their service-based physical and psychosocial needs. Haller’s father, who was a Veteran, also received care from Hope Hospice.

“Part of why I wanted him here was to set up a veteran’s honor ceremony,” Haller said. “He passed away that morning, so he didn't get the ceremony... Even though he was in a home care environment, he had regular visits from the nurses...It was overwhelming for me.”

It’s a common misconception that accepting hospice care means giving up, but Director of Development Heather Harrison said the opposite is true.

“There are better outcomes when [individuals] are on hospice longer,” Harrison said. “And that’s our goal: to allow patients and their families to have more time to prepare and work through the things that help the passing be more peaceful and allow the grief that follows to be more manageable.”

All counselors at Hope Hospice’s Hampel-Wuest Grief & Hope Center are licensed professional counselors specifically trained in grief support. The organization promotes caregiver confidence, excellence in symptom management, and a guided passage through the process of grief and loss.

In addition to individual counseling, the organization offers family counseling, virtual counseling, play therapy and several different support groups. The support groups range from tangible skills, such as cooking for one, to seasonal groups like Help through the Holidays. Hope Hospice also offers Camp HavenHeart, a unique grief camp with a blend of therapeutic interventions with recreation and fun, three times a year.

“Christmas and Thanksgiving and New Year's are very hard times for people following a loss, not just immediately but even a few years after the loss, so we offer that support group,” Harrison said.

Hope Hospice also offers support groups for teenagers, young adults and parents who have lost a child.

“We are there for people when it matters most, and we are there with them through the difficult journey they’re facing,” Harrison said. “Our goal is to ensure that the quality of life for everyone is improved. That looks like [providing] whatever that patient needs.”

Harrison said Hope Hospice staff helps individuals beyond just their medical needs. If a patient wants to play chess again before they die, the organization will find a volunteer to meet that need. Volunteers will paint patients' nails, read to patients or sit and talk with them.

“They discover the interests of the individuals, and they find volunteers who can fill that need,” Haller said.

Hope Hospice also has 11th Hour volunteers who will sit with patients as they take their final breaths if they do not have any family with them.

“We ensure that no one dies alone,” Harrison said.

After Heller’s experience with Hope Hospice’s counseling program, he decided to become a volunteer and help process donations and send thank you letters to donors.

“[Hope Hospice] brought sanity to an insane situation with Robin,” Haller said. “It’s a fabulous place to invest time and effort.”

To learn more about Hope Hospice’s end-of-life care, grief counseling programs or volunteer opportunities visit the organization website.

The above story was produced by Multi-platform Journalist Mary Katherine Shapiro with Community Impact's Storytelling team with information solely provided by the local business as part of their "sponsored content" purchase through our advertising team.