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MultiCare Home Health, Hospice & Palliative Care 

In recognition of National Hospice and Palliative Care Month, Mountain View Memorial Park wishes to acknowledge Julie Hartman, Bereavement Counselor at MultiCare Home Health, Hospice & Palliative Care for her accomplishments.

Interview with Julie Hartman

Julie has worked with MultiCare Home Health, Hospice & Palliative Care in the hospice profession, first as an intern for a little over 1 year, and now as an employee with the same agency for 4 years. She originally came into this field from what could be seen as a fluke, although she believes “nothing happens by chance.” She took care of her grandmother at the end of her life and has had other losses that inspired her to try working within Hospice in the Bereavement Department. While attending her Master of Arts in Counseling Psychology program, she had the opportunity to join the team as an intern. She learned from some amazing people and fit perfectly into the role. She has become very passionate about the importance of grief education in her community as a whole.

What are some of the powerful emotions you have gone through?

A powerful and ultimately life changing emotion that I have had to move through and learn from is the reality that at any moment a dear friend/relative or myself could be gone in an instant. In that realization, finding the balance between the debilitating fear and the motivation to make the most of every moment/word/action, and to not hesitate, to forgive or make amends. I have also learned to better navigate the overwhelming feelings of sympathy/empathy and how important it is to not let them consume me. It is not my job to take the pain away, but to offer hope for healing as I am speaking with my clients. That is all I can do as a grief counselor.

What are some things you do to take care of yourself emotionally so that you can continue to help others in your profession?

I have several ways of taking care of myself emotionally, because there is no way I can continue to give all of myself if I am empty. I spend much of my time with my family and friends; laughing; enjoying my own life; checking out from work when my hours are finished and not bringing it home with me; a lot of prayer; and being able to debrief difficult cases with my bereavement co-worker, Luella Loudenback. She has been my mentor since joining the team and is a huge promoter of self-care. She is an inspiration!

What has been the biggest challenge for you and why?

In the profession of being a grief counselor, the biggest challenge I face is talking about death and educating on grief and healing in a culture that is not accepting of this part of life or the pain that comes along with it. It is difficult to consistently rub up against ideas of grief that are inaccurate and have been passed down from generation to generation.

Part of my work is to re-educate people that it is normal to be sad, to cry when someone they are in connection with dies and that it is all right to show that emotion. I explain that they are not the only individuals feeling this way, and that it is a process that takes time and there is no rushing it. I teach that the only way to find healing is to face the pain, find resources and areas from which to draw strength and comfort, learn to move through it, and to find ways of managing it and integrating it into their lives. All of this to find meaning and purpose for the days ahead.

What do you believe has been your key to having great relationships with your patients?

I believe my keys to having great relationships with my clients are the compassion, sympathy and understanding I bring to our conversations. I am willing to listen and support them where they are in their journey and am not judgmental.

How do you motivate yourself?

When the job is challenging and overwhelming, I am motivated to continue on by reminding myself that I am bringing hope to people who do not have hope in the difficult moments they are moving through; I am sharing love and the truth of what grief really is and that there is healing to be found; I am caring for the widows and widowers and those that feel like they are alone, and reminding them we are here to walk with them through this unknown, life altering and, oftentimes, devastating journey.

Looking back on the first person in your care, how would you say you have evolved from that moment and in which ways?

Looking back at the first person in my care, I have evolved to the counselor I am today by acquiring more confidence and knowledge in order to better support those who are hurting, I have learned to ask the correct questions and educate more accurately about the grief process. The more clients with whom I talk, the more diversity and uniqueness I see/hear and then I am able to carry that knowledge forward and apply it to other situations when appropriate.

What advice would you give someone who is considering hospice service in the near or far future?

I believe that the end of someone’s life is just as important as the beginning. It is about celebrating and reflecting on the prior years and sometimes it is about making amends to find healing; it is about comfort, quality and last wishes. It takes energy and effort to give of yourself to support someone in these ways and many times it is not easy, but it is meaningful and it is worth it!

For more information on MultiCare Home Health, Hospice & Palliative Care Services:

Address:  PO Box 5200, Mailstop:  3901-1-HH, Tacoma, WA, 98415

Phone: (253) 301-6400 or (888) 516-4504

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