After volunteering for about a year at Barnabas Health Hospice and Palliative Care by making the rounds to see hospice patients that were admitted to the hospital I met the bereavement coordinator/ counselor and I suggested that Reiki treatments would benefit those whom are grieving. She was very open to the idea of Reiki treatments for the loved ones of those that have passed. The bereavement councillor is also a certified Integral Yoga instructor and very involved with the Integral Yoga community so she understood the concepts of “Energy”, “Oneness” etc…. and their benefits. On the patient side of this hospice the administration was not so open to, and was skeptical about Reiki treatments for patients and would require a Doctors prescription even if the patient requests a treatment, if the doctor does not approve they could not get a treatment from a hospice volunteer like myself.
How can Reiki treatments help those grieving? Luckily, I have not had a direct experience grieving for a close family member, so I base this mainly on my observations of those grieving that I have treated. The despair and sadness can be very deep when one looses a loved one and it takes a long time to heal. In the beginning these feelings of sadness and loss are constant and may feel like they will always be there. Besides this sadness there is also the daily practical side of life that transforms into something completely different then one is used to. Daily routines are different and many simple things one takes for granted are missed dearly on several levels. Also on top of the sadness, and feelings of loss the loved one left behind must now do everything, playing both the role of themselves and take over many of the duties of the deceased. These extra duties can initially be very stressful and creates a lot of anxiety.
I see Reiki treatments helping out in at least two ways. We know how relaxing and stress relieving a treatment can be so we see how it will help with the relieving some of the stress and anxiety. A little more subtle outcome is some relief from the grinding sensations of sadness and loss, although temporary, this can allow for recognition that the sadness and loss state of mind is not permanent, which can be a big relief for those grieving..
Below I describe the Reiki for bereavement to give a head start to those who may be interested in starting a similar program at your local hospice.
So here is how the Reiki treatment for those grieving works, the bereavement counselor would recommend grievers to the program and I would arrange an appointment with them. Not all of the grievers that say they want to get treatments go through with it for one reason or another. Also, for some reason or another, some may not do the full course of treatments, it just wasn’t for them. The program consists of 3 Reiki treatments a week apart and then the following Reiki treatments are done on monthly intervals for about 6 months. On the third or fourth treatment I ask if they are interested in learning meditation so that they can help themselves at home with some of them responding positively and then some of those actually following through and practicing. A couple of them have taken my Reiki class. I do not say anything about teaching Reiki unless I am asked since that would be improper in the volunteering role and I charge for the Reiki classes. By the third or fourth monthly treatment I give them a program evaluation form with the intention of finding out what is working for them and what is not or any suggestions for the program. In addition it is nice to know my time spent doing this volunteer work is worthwhile or if should I be doing something else. It is also important to document for the Hospice administration to validate the program. The questions on the evaluation form are, with some typical type of answers:
Typically, what were the immediate effects of the Reiki Treatments?
Feeling peaceful, relaxed & centered
For how long did these treatments last?
From a day to as much as a week
Were there any long term effects of the treatments?
Dealing with stress better, more positive, importance of a practice.
Do you think that the Reiki treatments helped you in your grieving process?
If you answered “yes” to question 4, how has it helped you?
Too many different responses to try and capture here
Would you be interested in practicing Reiki mediation at home?
Some say yes, few actually practice, though a couple have gone on to take Reiki I with me.
Do you have any suggestions on how to provide a better Reiki for bereavement service?
Provide literature about Reiki, start program earlier and nothing else to add.
I also do a once a month volunteer meditation night open to hospital/hospice staff and volunteers, grievers and students or anyone else that would like to come.
I hope that the above description can give you some ideas on how you can start a Reiki program for those grieving at a hospice near you.
Scott Kravis is a Shinpiden Reiki Level III graduate from the International House of Reiki