Guiding & Supporting Families is a Dual Mission for Laurie Stickney, LMSW


By Anna Grande, Niagara Hospice Communications & Marketing Intern

   Why work in hospice care? I asked this question once, but Laurie Stickney, LMSW, seemed to incorporate it into every answer. She has discovered over the years that being a counselor is not just her career, but it is also who she is, down to the core. Working for Niagara Hospice represents a fulfillment of her purpose. 
   Born and raised in Niagara Falls and now living in Wheatfield, Laurie is a lifelong resident of Niagara County. After receiving her Bachelor’s in Social Work from Buffalo State, Laurie continued to the University of Buffalo to obtain her Master of Social Work, and in 2007, she passed her licensing exam. 
   Starting off at Niagara Hospice as a social worker in 1998, Laurie has since put most of her focus on bereavement counseling. Following the birth of her first daughter in 2003, she has served as a social worker when needed. When she started, the number of families she helped each year was smaller. Since then, Laurie has helped thousands of Niagara County families. In addition to her career with Niagara Hospice, Laurie also serves a Professor of Human Services at Niagara County Community College. When she’s not teaching or supporting families, Laurie enjoys making her yard a haven for animals. 
  When Laurie started her position at Niagara Hospice 23 years ago, both of her grandparents had passed away and she found herself asking the question, “What happens after death?” That naturally led to a series of other questions. Even if she hasn’t found all of the answers she was initially in search of, she continues to enjoy her career by learning more through her dual roles as a social worker and bereavement counselor. 
  Fulfilling these two different roles leads to Laurie working at two different paces, depending on the need. When she completes her duties as a social worker, she works quickly as the position’s responsibilities are very time-sensitive. She has to provide as much guidance as she can in a limited amount of time to help the patient and the family in the best way possible. On the other hand, when she is acting as a counselor, her pace is much slower. This is because the grieving process has its own timetable, and her role is to provide any type of personalized counseling that family members seek after the loss of a loved one. Today, Laurie focuses her attention on grief counseling, as she has found that grief work, or unaddressed grief issues, can have a profound impact on families. She recognizes that each family has their own grieving process, and pace, and it is her job to assist them in any way they desire.
   Through all of her years helping others, Laurie has found that life and death are the opposite sides to the same coin. Seeing both sides allows for her to have a deeper appreciation for her own life. She has been able to help many other Niagara County families find peace each and every year. She wholeheartedly believes that “the inevitable has the potential to be beautiful and peaceful,” and she wants to share this feeling with others.
   Laurie’s positive, happy demeanor always puts people at ease. When asked how she separates her job from the way she lives her life, she says that death brings about “peace in the completion of life.” Instead of seeing this reminder that her life will eventually come to an end, Laurie embraces her life and lives it to the fullest. When she interacts with families grieving at the end of life, she is able to remember how valuable her life is and says that her job, “is not just about death, but it’s about life.”

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