- Associated Press - Thursday, June 5, 2014

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (AP) - A hospice organization has started construction of a new community grief center aimed at helping adults who have lost loved ones to disease, accidents or homicides.

Organizers of the project held a groundbreaking ceremony Wednesday at the Visiting Nurse hospice on the city’s southwest side.

Dr. Robert Swint, a cardiologist with Lutheran Medical Group, said while he’s dealt throughout his career with family members of those who’ve died, he fell into an abyss after his wife died a year and a half ago.

“I was disoriented and paralyzed,” he said. “I couldn’t tell what time of day it was.”

Swint told The Journal Gazette he took on the role of co-chairman of the grief center’s fundraising drive to honor his wife, who was a nurse at Visiting Nurse for six years before her death.

The hospice says it provides grief counseling to more than 850 family members of patients a year, WANE-TV reported.

It has raised about $4 million toward the $4.6 million construction cost for the grief center, which is expected to open in May or June next year. It will provide free services with three grief counselors, with plans to also have a social worker to give clients more help, Visiting Nurse spokeswoman Kris Rajchel said.

“Maybe their water or electricity is going to be cut, and the social worker can set them up with resources,” she said. “Our grief counselors say it’s hard to get them to focus if their basic needs are in jeopardy.”

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