Department of Psychiatry
Penn Behavioral Health

Center for the Treatment and Study of Anxiety

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Complicated Grief

Complicated Grief Program

The period  following the death of a loved is always difficult. Each person has their way of dealing with grief and how they  handle  the grieving process. To help those who have lost a loved one to cancer, the Joan Karnell Cancer Center offers The Bereavement Program. The program has been established in collaboration with the University of Pennsylvania’s Department of Psychiatry and is funded  by the Garroway Laboratory.

Under the direction of Edna Foa, PhD and Tracey Lichner, PhD, The Bereavement Program provides information about grief and coping, and  psychological counseling  as family members and friends adjust  following the death of their  loved one.

"Our aim is to provide support to families and help them adjust to life without their loved one. While grief is a normal process it helps not to go through it alone," says Dr. Lichner.

The program is comprises several steps. A sympathy card is the first point of contact  with families. Then a bereavement counselor from the Cancer Center contacts the family by phone. Over the next 13 months, the counselor stays in touch and provides information about the resources available including:

  • Anticipatory Bereavement - Counseling focused on patients and/or family members of patients who are nearing the end of treatment
  • Bereavement Counseling - Individual sessions offered in the weeks and months following the loss.
  • Monthly Bereavement Support Groups
  • Complicated Grief Therapy - Counseling is offered to those who continue to experience intense, disruptive feelings of grief more than six months after a loss.
  • Special Support Group for the Holidays

For more information about The Bereavement Program at the Joan Karnell Cancer Center, call 215-829-3225.