Grief Support Services - Deep Dive

AMOREM’s Service Podcast serves the mission to provide quality, thoughtful, loving care to patients and support to their families and to offer education and grief support to communities served. This podcast is intended to transform the way that people view and experience serious illness and end of life.

The pilot episode of AMOREM’s Service Podcast takes a deep dive into AMOREM Grief Support Services with Director of Grief Support Services, Kimberly Setzer, MSW, LCSW.

To better understand Ashewood Grief Support Services of AMOREM, Setzer breaks down the services offered by her discipline, her team dynamic and their responsibilities, and leads listeners into conversation about common emotions, reactions and resources available to those who are experiencing grief in AMOREM’s communities served.

First, Setzer explains that her team assesses individuals for their unique needs and concerns. She notes that each person experiences grief differently, that there is no cookie-cutter approach to grief, so, it is important to have a full understanding of an individual’s needs and create a plan of care based on those needs.

There are a multitude of opportunities available through Ashewood Grief Support Services: 

  • Individual Counseling
  • Good Grief Meals (informal time of food and fellowship)
  • Good Mourning Children’s Grief Camp
  • Annual Memorial Services
  • Grief Support Groups
    • Healing Together: General Grief Support
    • Love Remains: Spousal Loss Support Group
    • Lion Heart: Children’s Support Group
    • Suicide Survivor Support Group
    • Miscarriage/ Infant Loss Support Group

Setzer adds that an individual does not have to experience loss through AMOREM hospice or palliative services to attend any opportunity through Ashewood Grief Support Services. These events are available to the community at no cost, but registration is required.

It takes a full team of grief support professionals to facilitate these opportunities. The team is led by Setzer and includes two Grief Support Specialists who meet with people individually, facilitate support groups and go into the community to provide education and resources. The team also includes a Grief Resource Specialist who splits their time between grief support and administrative assistance. Finally, AMOREM Volunteers play an enormous role in Grief Support. Volunteers assist with groups, camps, events and more. Setzer explains that she and her team are in the process of creating even more volunteer opportunities under their discipline.

So, what is grief? And how does AMOREM’s Grief Support Services Team provide resources and assistance to community members who are experiencing grief?

Setzer defines grief as a highly personal response to life’s losses and changes. An interesting point that she raises is that most individuals are experiencing multiple losses, all at the same time yet, each loss is responded to differently by the individual.

A common trend that Setzer’s team has noticed is that individuals will experience multiple losses and believe that they are not coping well or that they are not doing a good job handling the losses. Setzer’s team wholeheartedly disagrees with this and believes that each loss is completely different.

Setzer breaks this thought down by explaining that it is extremely difficult to put one true definition of grief. She explains that grief is “where you are today” and the “responses that you are having today”. On an individual level, this could look different day to day, month to month and even year to year.

While grief may look different for everyone, there are similarities in how people experience it. Some of the common reactions to grief include:

  • Confusion
  • Heaviness
  • Longing
  • Feeling Overwhelmed
  • Isolation
  • Struggles with faith and/or belief systems

While these are emotional responses, Setzer explains that there are also many physical reactions to grief:

  • Exhaustion
  • Lack of motivation
  • Chronic illnesses worsening
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Trouble eating

Setzer’s team has a goal to create a space where individuals can explore these grief responses safely and begin to heal. Her team also pulls on community resources to help individuals explore their grief. For example, AMOREM chaplains are available to those who may be experiencing confusion or trouble with their spirituality after loss. If needs or concerns arise that are outside of Ashewood’s scope, they call on community partners and resources to assist an individual.

Setzer describes that one of the largest elements of her team’s work includes education. Understanding comes through educating so, her team works to provide individuals with continuous support and educational resources to help them better understand their grief and experience.

Part of this education includes teaching people about the stages of grief. Setzer notes that it is important to understand that these stages do not always happen chronologically, rather, they mostly happen out of order and occasionally happen simultaneously.

She first explains Elizabeth Kubler-Ross’s Five Stages of Grief, noting that when this system was created, Kubler-Ross was working with individuals who were at the end-of-life, not with individuals grieving a loss. Later in her career, Kubler-Ross worked with grievers and it was determined that her system applies to those who are grieving as well as those who are facing end-of-life.

Elizabeth Kubler-Ross’s Five Stages of Grief are:

  • Denial
  • Anger
  • Bargaining
  • Depression
  • Acceptance

Setzer once had a child explain to her that they felt as if they were a ping-pong ball bouncing from stage to stage in Kubler-Ross’s model. She believes this to be one of the best descriptions for experiencing the Five Stages of Grief.

While Setzer and her team still utilize Elizabeth Kubler-Ross;’s work and educate individuals on it, they have also shifted their focus to Worden’s Tasks of Mourning. This model provides four tasks that a mourner works through simultaneously.

Worden’s Tasks of Mourning are:

  • Accept the reality of the loss
  • Process the pain of grief
  • Adjust to the new world
  • Find an enduring connection with your loved one

Setzer stresses that these two models are not the only things utilized by her team. They educate individuals on these models to help create understanding and to validate the feelings of individuals. Her team also implements several other frameworks based on an individual’s unique and specific needs.

While Setzer and her team may be the experts on grief, they state that they are not the experts on “you”. Her team will bring the knowledge about grief while you bring the knowledge about yourself and your experiences. Setzer expresses that when we come together, as grief support provider and griever, something powerful can happen.

In closing the episode, Setzer ensures listeners that no matter where you may be today in your journey with grief, it is okay. It is okay if today you are feeling powerful and at peace and it is okay if tomorrow feels completely different. If you are in a great place today, savor it. If you are in a hard place today, know that tomorrow will come.

You can keep up with AMOREM Grief Support Service’s events through Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and the Events & Happenings web page.

If you or someone that you know could benefit from AMOREM Grief Support Services, please contact Director of Grief Support Services, Kimberly Setzer at 828.754.0101 or by emailing her at

AMOREM’s Service Podcast is proudly brought to you by AMOREM, your local, nonprofit, hospice and palliative care provider. AMOREM has provided services to the community for more than 40 years, formerly as Burke Hospice and Palliative Care and Caldwell Hospice and Palliative Care, and has served the High Country for more than 10 years. To learn more or to make a referral, visit or call 828.754.0101 to speak with a local team member.