NEW WEINSTEIN BEREAVEMENT PROGRAM LAUNCHES

Simonie Levy

Simonie Levy (center, seated) and her four children had to live through the loss of a husband and father, but are stronger for it and hope to better prepare others for the unthinkable. PHOTO/courtesy Weinstein Hospice

Four years ago, Simonie Levy was a 40-year-old mother of four living in New York when her 40-year-old husband was diagnosed with leukemia. Mark died eight months later, leaving Simonie with three-year-old twins, a 10-year-old son and a 12-year-old daughter.

“It was the most horrible thing, bearing [not only] the weight of my own grief but also that of my children,” Levy said. “But I couldn’t get into the grave with him. I had to teach myself and my children that you have to survive whatever adversity life throws at you.

“You climb the mountain with a broken heart, but you climb it. And that is what we have all done.”

Moved and inspired by her family’s resilience and surprising ability to overcome what had seemed like insurmountable emotional devastation, Levy was determined to help other people do the same. When she moved to Atlanta, she was introduced to Talya Bloom, the Director of Weinstein Hospice and Palliative Care.

Levy learned that hospice family members are followed by a hospice bereavement counselor for 13 months following the death of a loved one. Between her experience as an arts and drama major and Bloom’s enthusiasm for enhancing the bereavement component of Weinstein Hospice, a new and innovative bereavement program was born.

“Thriving Beyond Surviving” is a series of forums exploring possibilities for growth and joy through life’s inevitable losses. Using a combination of conventional support groups and special events that utilize drama, music, writing, film and topical discussion, people will be able to express their grief in a variety of ways.

Donna Faye Marcus, Chaplain and Bereavement Coordinator, is one of five Weinstein Hospice staff members who are working with Levy on the series. She explains the goal of the series:

“When working with those who have experienced a loss, I am often asked, ‘How can I do this?’ [or] ‘Will this pain ever go away?’

“It is our hope that this series will help grieving people discover that they can move through the pain of loss toward a life enriched by the experience.”

The first event in the series will be held June 25 from 7 p.m. until 9 p.m. at Ahavath Achim Synagogue. This forum will incorporate a panel of presenters, ages 16 through 86, sharing their “Personal Stories of Rising Above Loss in Childhood, Adulthood and Old Age.”

The forums are free and open to the public, and two social work Continuing Education Units are pending. The traditional bereavement support groups will continue to be held on the first and fourth Tuesdays of the month; prospective support group members must register in advance.

Editor’s note: For more information or to RSVP, contact Jenifer Firestone at (404) 352-4308 ext. 293 or jfirestone@weinsteinhospice.org.

From the Weinstein Hospice and Palliative Care
For The Atlanta Jewish Times