Here are some Frequently Asked Questions about Bereavement

My loved one hasn’t died yet, why would I see a Bereavement Counselor?

Accompanying a loved one through serious illness and the dying process is an intense and demanding experience. Many different thoughts and feelings arise and it is not uncommon to feel lost and overwhelmed. Talking to a Bereavement Counselor and/or other members of the hospice team such as your social worker and hospice chaplain, can help you feel more supported and able to navigate this time. If your loved one is not receiving hospice care, we can still meet with you to provide counseling and other supports, such as referrals to helpful resources.

What is anticipatory grief/early bereavement/caregiver support?

These terms refer to the support available to you when a loved one is seriously ill and/or approaching the end of life. You do not have to be a full-time caregiver to receive this support. “Anticipatory grief” and “early bereavement” both refer to the period of grief before someone dies. The grieving process may even begin when a loved one receives a terminal diagnosis or as you witness changes in their health.

How do I schedule an appointment?

Call the Bereavement Coordinator at 805.690.6201 to do a phone intake and brief assessment as well as to schedule an initial appointment with a counselor.

What are your business hours?

Our usual business hours are 8-5 Monday through Friday, however if staff are available we do schedule later appointments upon request.

Is there a fee?

We do not charge for our grief and bereavement support, thanks to VNHC’s mission and to the generosity of our community who donate to our Foundation. Donations are always appreciated and are made directly to our Foundation. They can be made in recognition of Bereavement counseling and care received. Online donations may be made at under “Make a Gift”.

I’ve never utilized bereavement counseling before, what should I expect?

Most people have never been to a grief group or a grief counselor before they come to us. You can expect a warm and welcoming atmosphere where we will listen to you and work with you to determine what support best fits your needs. Individual bereavement counseling appointments usually occur in 50 minute sessions. At an initial appointment you will be asked to complete an informed consent for bereavement counseling and your counselor will assess your initial needs.

Do I have to join a group?

No, our grief support is focused on your needs. Some people prefer to meet one on one with a counselor, others prefer a group or need information, education or other resources. Some people find support and comfort in both individual and group formats.

How do I join a group? What groups do you have?

Our current groups are listed here. Note: a phone intake and assessment is needed before you may attend a group. Please call the facilitator of the group you wish to join. Their contact info is on the flyer.

My relative/friend needs grief counseling but won’t get help. What can I do?

It is quite natural to be concerned for a loved one’s well-being when they are grieving over the death of someone they love.  Many concerned relatives/friends wonder if their loved one is grieving normally or in need of professional support. Remember, grief is a natural response to loss and the expression of grief is quite normal. For tips on how you can support your family member or friend check out the article Helping Others Through Grief. The article Appropriate Expectations for Yourself in Grief may also provide you with an understanding of natural responses to loss. Call our Bereavement Coordinator if you would like to talk more about how to best help your loved one.

I don’t live in Santa Barbara. How do I find grief support in my area?

Upon request, we assist individuals in finding support in their area, if it exists. Contact us and we will do our best to link you with suitable support. You can also search for support through your local hospice. Search for a hospice provider near you, through

Ustedes proveen ayuda en español? Do you provide support in the Spanish language?

Si, tenemos un consejero de duelo en nuestro equipo que provee ayuda individual y a las familias. Llame a Reginaldo Salcedo al 805-364-1818. Yes, we have a bilingual grief counselor on our team who provides counseling to individuals and families. Call Reginaldo Salcedo at 805.364.1818.

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