Yostena’s story: finding comfort through grief support

Yostena Makram of Rumford, RI, didn’t have time to prepare to say goodbye to her beloved sister, Ireny. Ireny passed away in January 2016, after being diagnosed with advanced cancer.

The loss was sudden and devastating, but Yostena’s grief was long and complex. She got through it with help from HopeHealth grief support.

Before Ireny passed, a HopeHealth hospice team member gave Yostena a grief support information packet to “to let us know that any kind of support our family needed would be found inside. At the time, I had no idea of how true those words would be.”

She took the packet home and moved it from counters to drawers for several months before finally deciding to call HopeHealth for help.

“I didn’t know what hospice support would look like, but I knew we needed help grieving, talking, communicating. I couldn’t rely just on myself or friends,” she said.

“Our losses may have looked different—younger, older, sudden illness, lengthy—but we shared feelings that I had not been able to put into words.”

Grief counseling and support groups

After calling HopeHealth, Yostena was paired with grief support manager, Diane Lambert. Grief counselors have special training in helping people heal from the death of a loved one.Directly above view of support group sitting in circle at therapy session and discussing problems of each other, black man consoling crying woman

Later, Yostena encouraged her family to join her at a grief support group designed specifically for people who have lost siblings. She said the group made her feel she belonged.

“Our losses may have looked different—younger, older, sudden illness, lengthy—but we shared feelings that I had not been able to put into words.”

As Yostena continued working with Diane and the support group, she was pleased to discover she could start or end a service type as she chose. “The doors are always open, especially as your needs, emotions and grief evolve,” she explained.

After a while Yostena began attending mindfulness meditation classes. But her engagement with grief support didn’t stop there.

Adult grief retreat: Weekend of Hope and Healing

Yostena has attended HopeHealth’s Weekend of Hope & Healing, an adult grief retreat, for three years.

“I was anxious about attending so soon after my sister passed away, but knew that it would be an important experience.”

The retreat has become an annual pilgrimage for her. “HopeHealth has picked the most beautiful setting. It is nourishing for those who are in a fragile state, surrounded by nature, quiet, and support.”

“Grief does not end after the funeral, after the first year.”

Remembrance event: Light Up a Life

Two women at podium
Yostena shares her story of loss at Light Up a Life

Just a year after Ireny passed away, Yostena participated in a remembrance event called Light Up A Life. She found it challenging yet helpful to share her feelings at this event.

“I was feeling so empty that I no longer had anything to give this world. What could I say that would help anyone?” she recalled.

For Yostena, preparing to share her story was a healing process in itself. “I didn’t realize how important it would be to speak about my sister, to say out loud that I am here because I love and lost her. That grief is part of my journey, but HopeHealth has helped me to stay grounded.”

“We have so much to learn from each other. HopeHealth nurtured these conversations and connections so they felt natural, honest,” she said.

Yostena continued to attend HopeHealth programs because, she said, “grief does not end after the funeral, after the first year.”

The support Yostena found through HopeHealth also helped her get through the death of her mother in 2018.

She would encourage anyone who has lost a loved one to open the door and ask for help.

“On the days that seem impossible, HopeHealth is always there. Through HopeHealth, I learned that I could get through this, that I owed it to myself and my family to hold on to the people who want to help.”


Are you struggling with grief after the loss of a loved one? Contact us at (844) 671-HOPE or Information@HopeHealthCo.org.

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