Muriel Williams is a Bermuda native who specializes in organ donation, hospice care and bereavement, serving the country of 65,000 residents and many expatriates who have flocked to the country in search of paradise. “We (the country) have one hospital,” says Williams, along with one organization that provides information and education on organ and tissue donation. She has a partnership with a New England-based organization, working together to optimize organ donation between the US and Bermuda. Williams attended the Open to Hope annual conference in 2015 and shared her passion project with Dr. Gloria Horsley.
Dr. Horsley asked Williams if there were any noticeable differences in how people grieve between the US and Bermuda, but Williams says that given the diversity in nationalities, that the grieving processes are also diverse. However, Bermudians themselves “tend not to talk very much about their grief.” Getting people to talk about their grief is a work in progress.
Trouble in Paradise
Williams shares that there’s also a hospice in Bermuda, but right now most people are admitted at the end stage of death. More work needs to be done in this aspect, too, encouraging patients to consider hospice care at least six months in advance. A big family-oriented culture, the common process for survivors is to hold a viewing of the body the night before the funeral. This is when people come together, talk and find out if the family has any specific needs.
Post-funeral and burial, there’s a large gathering where support and food are both found in abundance. “It’s a cultural thing, people tend not to talk about it (grief).” A small country leads to a desire for privacy, and Williams says many people want to appear strong. Williams has also kick-started a church support group that is expanding to the community, and she has great hopes for more transparency in grief in Bermuda.