Understanding the Complex Role of a Hospice Spiritual Counselor

Bonnie Lillis, MA, LPC, McLean Hospice Spiritual and Bereavement Counselor, pens article for the American Journal of Hospice and Palliative Medicine.

“The role of the spiritual counselor may be the most misunderstood due to the nature of this professional title”, writes Bonnie Lillis in the introduction of her article appearing in this month’s issue of the American Journal of Hospice and Palliative Medicine (AJMPM).  “The misconception for many new patients and their family members is a basic misunderstanding of the definition of spirituality.”

 Expanding on the notion that “Spirituality is what provides meaning, purpose, connection, and transcendence in one’s life. This can take many forms and is found in a multitude of areas. It can come from organized religion, nature, family, friends, work, and frequently a combination of these.” The role of a spiritual counselor and hospice care “is holistic in that it meets physical, emotional, and spiritual needs of the patient and their family.”

 As a Hospice Spiritual and Bereavement Counselor at McLean since 2008, Bonnie has been providing patient and family support at the end-of-life, as well as facilitating bereavement support groups.  She is well-versed in the caring for individuals and families as they face end-of-life care and the intricacy of grief. In her article, Lillis offers four reflective case studies where a spiritual counselor provided solace, comfort and peace to those in need. Her examples talk about providing support as patients reflect on their lives, their choices and the distress they experience as they are facing at the end of their lives. By sharing her creative and sometimes unorthodox methods of reaching the patient, Lillis’ case studies illustrate the unique support offered by spiritual counselors and the peace the patients find within. 

 Bonnie Lillis’ full article may be found on the Sage Journal website, in the American Journal of Hospice and Palliative Medicine, June 2014. AM J HOSP PALLIAT CARE June 2014 vol. 31 no. 4 353-355.

 Bonnie Lillis is a Licensed Professional Counselor with a Master’s degree in Community Counseling. She has served as a Hospice Spiritual and Bereavement Counselor for the New McLean since 2008. Bonnie provides patient and family support at the end-of-life, facilitates bereavement support groups, and hosts community outreach lectures.

 Bonnie facilitates a Bereavement Support Group at McLean that is offered to the community free of charge:

 Spousal Bereavement Support Group

2nd and 4th Monday of the month

10:00 am to 11:30 am


75 Great Pond Road

Simsbury, CT 06070

The Health Center, Cole Conference Room

 For more information, or to register, call 860-658-3950.