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Moments That Matter

An interview with Kassidi Poots, Eucalyptus Tree Coordinator

Describe your position with Cedar Valley Hospice.

As the Eucalyptus Tree (ET) Coordinator me job is to:

  • Educate children about grief
  • Consult with paretns about how to explain death and dying to their children
  • Train volunteers to be companions to children who are grieving
  • Educate the community about children and grief and explain the purpose of hospice and the importance of quality over quantity when it comes to caring for our patients

How does your position support the mission of Cedar Valley Hospice? 

The ET program supports our missions by providing a unique and successful program for youth about grief education. This program goes above and beyond other programs in the Cedar Valley by providing a variety of different educational services and resources.

What are the most enjoyable aspects of your job? Why? 

The most enjoyable part of my job is getting the oppurtunity to listen to the kids' memories and stories about their loved ones. I am able to help them understand that they are not alone and it's okay to grieve. 

Share a memorable story of a family that has impacted you.

For a little over a year now, I've been working with a 3-year-old little girl whose mother was only 25 when she died from breast cancer at our Hospice Home. I was with the family the day she died and was there to help the little girl most of the day just talking with her. Remembering she was only 2, I kept our conversation to language she could understand. A couple weeks later, her grandma reported that the little girl would spend her day looking for her Mom at the house, or whenever they would drive by the doctor's office or the Hospice Home, she would say, "I want my Mom" or "Mom's there."

I explained to the grandma that these signs of grief are very common for young children, but that she needed to help me educate the little girl.
I told her that it is important to: 

  • Use correct language for the child and keep the loved one's memory alive.
  • Use the language "dead, dying, died" and explain what it means when someone dies.
  • Show the child pictures of their loved one. 
  • Talk about the loved one and memories often.

With grandma fully on board, the little girl became more comfortable talking about her Mom. Although her memories are faint and her language wasn't there yet, she was able to tell me, "Mom died" or "Mom's an angel." When a child loses someone so young, their memories tend to fade the longer they go without seeing their special person, but thanks to the little girl's family and grief education, she has not forgotten her Mother. As she gets older, the little girl will ask more questions about her mother, but because they are grief educated, they will be prepared to answer them in an honest and age-appropriate manner. 

In you opinion, what makes Cedar Valley Hospice stand out about other hospice providers in the area? 

I think what makes us stand out the most is our willingness to go above and beyond, not only for our patients and families but for our community as well. People at Cedar Valley Hospice truly care about helping others. With the Eucalyptus Tree Program, it is truly an amazing experience to help so many youth with their grief journeys.