Press Release

HFA Webinar to Discuss Coping and Support Strategies When Death and Loss are Part of the Job 

WASHINGTON, June 13—Hospice Foundation of America (HFA) will host a 90-minute webinar on June 20 at 12 p.m. ET on When Death and Loss are Part of the Job, featuring presenters Patti Anewalt, PhD, LPC, FT, and Kenneth M. Ralph, PhD.  Appropriate for anyone whose work involves death and/or bereavement, the presenters will discuss the potential impact of this work on professionals, as well as effective organizational, professional and personal support strategies.
The presenters of When Death and Loss are Part of the Job bring a wealth of experience to the webinar and its participants. Dr. Anewalt, Director of the Pathways Center for Grief & Loss with Hospice & Community Care in Mount Joy, PA, has devoted her clinical practice, writing, and teaching to issues related to end of life, grief, compassion fatigue, and crisis response, as well as to training school administrators and counselors on trauma and crisis response. She is a disaster mental health specialist and instructor with the American Red Cross. Since 1988, Dr. Ralph has worked in Lancaster County, PA serving as the primary trainer for Lancaster County’s Critical Incident Stress Management (CISM) Team. He has also created J&K Seminars, which provides continuing education to human service professionals.
Stress from a job, especially one that deals with death and loss, can disrupt a person’s well-being, leading to burnout and workplace fatigue. The Mayo Clinic defines burnout as a “special type of job stress—a state of physical, emotional, or mental exhaustion combined with doubts about your competence and the value of your work.” Dr. Anewalt expresses a similar idea through the term “compassion fatigue.”
“When death and loss are part of the job, there are times when the work affects professionals more than others. Without intentional self-awareness and efforts to offset the inherent stress, compassion fatigue can set in,” Dr. Anewalt says.
Compassion fatigue is not limited to a single profession or job sector, but those who deal with death and trauma daily are more likely to experience it. Moreover, professionals can encounter death and loss differently: firefighters, police officers, and other first responders experience death in a different way than hospice team members and funeral directors. Yet, the solution to compassion fatigue is largely the same.
The appropriate strategy for combating compassion fatigue is “compassion wellness,” according to Dr. Anewalt. This can be encouraged through a number of personal, professional, and organization strategies that help mitigate the stresses of work. These strategies include personal routines, such as regular exercise or journaling, to more formal acknowledgements of death and loss in a professional setting.
After premiering on June 20, When Death and Loss are Part of the Job will be available for an entire year on-demand, which allows organizations to use it as a tool for new staff and volunteers on an ongoing basis. Additionally, HFA members receive 15 percent off the cost of the webinar. Continuing education credits are available from a wide range of boards.