The Power of Giving

Let’s call her Ann. Ann is a 64-year-old grandmother who was diagnosed with terminal cancer 6 months ago. Not wanting her final days to be spent sick, in a hospital, without her family, Ann and her loved ones decided to utilize the services of Central Wyoming Hospice and Transitions. Ann will be using these services for 51 days. During this time, Ann will receive 31 nursing visits and 37 home health aide visits. Throughout these visits, Ann will make it a point to learn each of her caregivers’ names and their favorite books. She’ll have her favorite nurse, of course. But she’ll be sure to make each nurse or aide feel like they’re her favorite. Her smile is contagious and, even though she is in pain, that smile never wanes. 

Ann’s cost of direct care – including staff, medication, supplies, and medical equipment – will be about $8,809. And she is just one of the countless patients that has benefitted from the services of Central Wyoming Hospice and Transitions because of people like you.

In 2022, Central Wyoming Hospice and Transitions served 438 patients. 

CWHT serves, on average, 66.2 patients a day. 

The average duration of hospice care for patients was 50.7 days. 

92 veterans were served; 45 of whom received a special ceremony. 

88 volunteers contributed 2,560 hours of their time.

$342,000 in charity care was provided.

It costs approximately $700 a day to offer care to just one patient. 

And all of those numbers prove just how pivotal community donations are to Central Wyoming Hospice and Transitions. 

As a nonprofit organization, CWHT relies on community support in order to sustain the vast and varied services that it offers to the sick, the elderly, and the dying. 

“We have one of the most generous communities in the Rocky Mountain West, if not the entire United States,” said Kilty Brown, the Executive Director of Central Wyoming Hospice and Transitions. “Our donors are incredibly supportive. And it’s not just these big donors who sweep in with a large amount. It’s the smaller individuals, or families, who maybe send in a $25 check every month just because they’re grateful for the care their mom received.” 

The big donations are important; vital even. But so are the smaller donations from the individuals who give what they can. These donations, all of them, large and small, allow CWHT to operate in the way they believe is best for the community in which they serve. They don’t have to answer to a big corporate conglomerate who is more concerned with ‘the bottom line’ than they are with the actual patients. 

“I think that if we were a for-profit hospice, you’d see a totally different type of care,” Brown stated. “I think one of the reasons that we’re nonprofit is because that way, we can offer care that nobody else does, with our hospice home in particular. Our hospice homes are incredibly important to the community. They’re a safety net for the elderly and for the dying. And it’s important for our community to have them.”

Why are they so important? It’s because, for some of these people, Central Wyoming Hospice and Transitions is the only place they have. 

“You have patients like elderly men or women who never got married or who never had children and have nobody to care for them,” Brown said. “Or sometimes we have homeless patients who just don’t have any family around. Sometimes we have ranchers who live out in the middle of the country and, like in winters that we’ve had this past year, you just can’t get to them easily. So, I think we really need these homes, but we just couldn’t do that without donors.” 

Medicare and other forms of insurance help offset some of the costs associated with hospice and transition care for Wyoming patients, but it’s not enough. It’s never enough. 

“Our hospice home for the population in Wyoming is something that we just can’t sustain off of Medicare and insurance alone,” Brown said. “These are money-losing endeavors for us. And that’s why donations are so important. Your money is going towards paying for care in our hospice homes and providing patient care for the dying. It costs us about $700 per day to care for one person. And we only receive payment of $580 per day. So, every day, we’re losing $120 per patient. So, when you’re donating, you’re paying for nurses, you’re paying for aides, you’re paying for the upkeep of the homes. You’re paying for care.” 

You’re paying for care. Every dollar that is given goes towards the care of the sick, the elderly, and the dying. Central Wyoming Hospice and Transitions would simply not exist without donations from community members, and they mean it when they say every dollar counts. Whether it’s $5 or $500. 

“Without your support, we couldn’t be here, period,” Brown said. “We wouldn’t have our doors open. And I think care for the elderly would look very different in Wyoming. I’ve seen homes where there hasn’t been hospice care, and it’s a crisis. It’s not having access to medicine. It’s not having access to comfort. It’s not having access to basic pain control. And I think that, by donating, you become that stop-gap towards allowing our community to have such important access to dignity and comfort at the end of life.” 

Dignity. That is the word that stayed in the back of Ann’s mind throughout her time with Central Wyoming Hospice and Transitions. Dignity for Ann, and dignity for her family. Throughout their time together, neither Ann, nor her family, had to worry about the cost of her care; they just had to be there to hold her hand, to see her smile. Ann’s community took care of her. They allowed her to die with dignity.  

Ann is just one of the hundreds of patients that Central Wyoming Hospice and Transitions provides care for every year. Her story is a familiar one and it demonstrates just how important the power of giving really is.

To make donations and find out more about the types of services that your donations pay for, visit

Joan’s Journey

by Allisa Nathan 

Our experience with hospice as we navigated the end of life with my mother-in-law is beautiful, tiring, sad, full of relief and many emotions in between! 

We were so blessed to have CWHT staff, one and all become our guides to travel through the new and unfamiliar territory of Joan’s end of life. They became a collective help for our family as we made decisions and watched the slow decline of our family member. 

We were so grateful for the gentle care provided by the CNA’s, Nurses, and administrators. They do so many thankless tasks, often unseen by anyone and yet they choose to go above and beyond. Some of these noteworthy acts included making sure that facial hair was kept tidied, special aromatherapy scented lotions were used in cares, and night staff took quiet hours to hold Joan’s hand. And milkshake after milkshake was carefully blended with as many calories as could be crammed into a single cup, all to satisfy the sweet tooth she’d developed. 

They wanted to know our Joanie. They encouraged us to share stories of Joan’s life to know her better and interact with in her in ways that she’d have preferred if she’d been more communicative. Birthdays were celebrated, holidays observed, and conversations shared. We learned of talents as personal violin concerts were generously performed. Night or day we witnessed extraordinary care and found community, friendship, compassion, and understanding. 

The kindness was not just for patients, I knew that the mission of hospice was genuinely tailored to care for people and families as they faced the uncertainties of the end-of-life journey. 

Week after week, month after month we were comforted by these many kindnesses. But for me the culmination came in Joan’s final hours. At the sweet suggestion of one of the staff Joan was wheeled out in her bed to enjoy the warm July heat on the patio next to a trickling fountain. For hours we enjoyed that peaceful setting. As our family members sat and visited, we had staff member after staff member come to say their goodbyes. Joan was hugged and kissed and cried over with all the tenderness that two years of care had generated in this loving crew. She was honored in such a personal way. Even employees who were not working that day stopped in to bid her farewell. We were able to visit with and express thanks to each person. And because we were outdoors, for the first time we saw their faces without masks. It was an unforgettable experience. To me it seemed that she was royal- queen for just one day. 

In life Joan had been a social worker, a kind Christian and a selfless human being to family, friends, and strangers alike. That day on the patio I could clearly see that all those seeds of kindness she’d carefully and intentionally sown in her 90 years were returned to her in the final years. She truly reaped what she’d sown. It was a tribute fitting of royalty. 

Seasonal Grieving

“How are you?” It’s a simple question (we think). And it usually elicits an equally simple answer. 

“I’m good, you?

“I’m fine.” 

“Not bad, yourself?” 

Many of us – most of us, even – ask this question in passing. It’s our immediate go-to. When we see a neighbor across the fence, or pass somebody in the grocery store, it’s our default question. We don’t mean anything by it. We may even be genuinely interested. But in many cases, if the answer to that question is anything other than “good, you?” we don’t know how to respond. A grieving person is oftentime absolutely clueless about how to answer that question. They just don’t know how they are. Plus, do you really want to know? Because if they tell you, it might be more than what you were asking for.

For a grieving person, This is true all the time, and especially in the months following the holiday season. January through, let’s say, March, are rough months for many people. Seasonal depression is an epidemic during these cold winter months, especially in Wyoming, where the wind constantly feels like a literal slap in the face. 

The elements, the depression, the feelings of hopelessness are even worse for people who are grieving. 

Grief is…complicated. It’s different for everybody. It looks different, it feels different, it presents differently. 

After the holiday season ends, for some, grief is even harder to deal with. 

For these people, there is Central Wyoming Hospice and Transitions. 

“We have a grief support group for people that started in mid-January because we know that it’s a time when  it’s darker outside and there’s the let-down after the holidays,” said Todd Von Gunten, the Grief Care Coordinator with Central Wyoming Hospice and Transitions. “We usually get some of our larger groups in at this time, after the holidays.”

Visiting one of those grief support groups is just one of the ways people may be able to help manage their grief. But even if they don’t join a group, talking about their grief can help ease it, even if only for a little while. 

“That’s one thing you can do,” Von Gunten offered. “Surround yourself with support, whether that be group [support] or just individual counseling. We have that at any time, just in terms of being able to talk about what happened, or to continue the conversation of remembrance of your person.”

Talking is a very good way to help manage grief during the winter months and at any time throughout the year. Individuals living with grief usually have at least one person they can open up to. That person listening could make an enormous difference. 

It’s not just the weather and the shorter days and the longer nights that can exacerbate grief. It’s also everyday stress. 

“Any place where you can lessen the stress is a good thing,” Von Gunten stated. “If I’ve got this deadline coming up or I’ve got this bill to pay, or the mortgage – these stressors, we see coming at us. The stress of death is a 24/7 thing, where you’re just kind of going through your day and you’re going, ‘Okay, wait a second. Something’s wrong. Something’s not quite right. Oh yeah, so-and-so died.’ It’s not like you forgot. It’s just that there’s constantly a pressure that’s gaining on us and pushing in on us. That stress can’t be fixed. It gets lighter over time, but the grief is much greater. Maybe try and lessen some of those basic stressors.” 

How to actually do that depends on the individual and the circumstances of their own lives. But if there’s a way to do that, it might help with the grieving process. 

Another way to help with the grieving process, especially after the holidays, is to exercise. 

“With New Year’s resolutions and the like of starting to go to the gym and getting buff; it’s not like that,” Von Gunten said. “It’s much more just about movement. Go for a walk if you can, if the weather allows it. Or just find some kind of way to get some exercise in. Maybe get back into a good cycle with your eating habits.” 

One of the biggest hardships of living in Wyoming is dealing with the wind. In addition to the everyday cold that goes along with winter, the wind itself makes conditions even harsher. So how do grieving people combat that? 

“Well, other than telling us all to move…” Von Gunten laughed. “In terms of the environment we live in, I think it’s almost as if we have to distract ourselves, or create our own focus. It’s like telling your inner voice, when it’s negative to you ‘Hey, hold on. I’m going through a very hard time right now and I’m doing the best I can and this is temporary.’ So, if the wind is up or anything like that, is there a way to focus on some art or a hobby that you like to do? These are also tips for reducing stress. Because basically, the wind and the weather stress us out. So, we have to find ways to reduce that stress. So, we tell grieving people to focus on what they like to do.” 

This is good advice even when the wind isn’t blowing a hundred miles an hour. When you’re grieving, find something that you like to do, something that is comfortable, something that brings you peace. 

“If there’s something normal that you used to do, try to do that,” Von Gunten suggested. “If you like to bowl, go bowling. If you like to crochet, crochet. If there’s somebody that understands grief and that can be there with you, even if just to help get you there and be with you while you do it, that’s helpful too. But focus on what you like to do. Listen to the music you like, watch the movies you like, eat the food you like, within a balance. Do things that you like to do. Most importantly, be around people that you like to hang around with.”

If you find yourself as one of those people a grieving person chooses to be around, do them a favor – don’t ask them how they’re doing. 

“Grieving people do not like it when you ask ‘How are you?’ Von Gunten said. “Because either, A) they don’t know Or B) Do you really want to know? Because if I told you, you might not want to know. For those of us who are just trying to be supportive, it’s the thing you say. You say ‘How are you,’ they say ‘Fine,’ and you move on.”

Von Gunten shared a story of a support person asking a grieving person how they were. The grieving person said, ‘I hate it when people ask me that’ and the support person said, ‘I’m sorry, what would you like me to say?” 

“And then, the grieving person had to step back and think about what she would like,” Von Gunten reflected. “And what the grieving person finally ended up saying was, ‘Tell me you’re glad to see me.’ Now, whenever I see a grieving person, whether it’s in a group or individually, I always say ‘It’s good to see you.’ It’s a nice thing to feel like someone is happy to see you. Then you don’t have to come up with some kind of answer to ‘How are you?’ So generally speaking, when you see a grieving person and you know they’re grieving, just tell them you’re glad to see them.”  

If you’d like to know more about our free Grief Care Services, please call Central Wyoming Hospice and Transitions at (307) 577-4832.

CWHT Community Candlelight Remembrance

Join us to honor the lives of your loved ones at our Community Candlelight Remembrance event on May 23rd 2023. Together, we will gather to remember those who have died, lighting candles, speaking their names aloud, and sharing memories.
The ceremony takes place at 7:00PM in our Kloefkorn Home Gardens located at 304 S. Fenway in Casper, Wyoming.
This event is open to the entire community.
Learn more about our Grief Care special events, groups, and programs, email Todd at, or call us at (307) 577-4832.

‘Til Death Due You Part Book Club

Join us on Monday, January 23rd at the Library for our ‘Til Death Due You Part book club, where we’ll be discussing “Everything is Horrible and Wonderful” by Stephanie Wittels Wachs. A partnership with Central Wyoming Transitions and the Natrona County Library, this quarterly gathering provides a comfortable atmosphere in which to share a respectful, thought-provoking, and life-affirming conversation on the topics of death, dying, and bereavement. Stop by the Library’s second floor desk to register and pick up a copy of this month’s book. This program is free and open to the public.

Everything is Horrible and Wonderful will make you laugh, cry, and wonder if that possum on the fence is really your brother’s spirit animal. A touching memoir that delves into addiction, grief recovery, and healing after loss, this poignant story ultimately showcases the enduring love we have for those we lose too soon.-Amazon

“It’s Okay to Cry at Christmas,” Dealing With Grief Through The Holidays

The holidays are upon us, and while many people are celebrating the sights and sounds and songs of the season, there are others with whom these holidays do not happily resonate. It could be that way for any number of reasons; maybe somebody close to them passed away recently. Perhaps they’re in the midst of a divorce or their depression and anxiety has left them hopeless, just trying to make it through the holidays. 

For these reasons and countless others, the holidays might not be a happy time for people. But if a person is mourning and grieving the loss of a loved one, that’s where Central Wyoming Hospice & Transitions comes in.

“People who are grieving struggle more throughout the holidays,” said Todd Von Gunten, the Grief Care Coordinator with Central Wyoming Hospice & Transitions. “These are family holidays or gathering holidays where traditions are involved, where certain meals or activities are repeated ritually, on a regular basis. If one person were to have died and is not present at the events, it is readily noticed. Sometimes people don’t know what to do if that person had a particular role that was specific to them, and it just isn’t going to be the same without them.” 

Of course, when somebody has passed away, when a family member is missing during a holiday, it just doesn’t feel the same. 

 “What happens to a grieving person in these three months is also environmental,” Von Gunten said. “The public activity on the streets and in stores is amplified. So it becomes very difficult to move about. A grieving person can become highly overstimulated. Sounds, sights, touch, smell – all of that becomes very difficult. Being around large groups of people is a difficult thing for them.”

The problem is that Christmas, especially, is supposed to be a time for cheer. For many people, however, it’s the exact opposite. 

“It’s the sights and sounds of the holiday, where people are saying ‘Be of good cheer,’ ‘Peace on earth,’ or that ‘It’s the most wonderful time of the year;’ but for a grieving person, it’s not,” Von Gunten said. “They can’t just come out and be joyous and be actively involved with the traditions. And that’s okay.”

Von Gunten offered a variety of tips for those dealing with grief and for those who are close to the grieving person. If a family member has passed, Von Gunten suggested still keeping a place for them at the table, maybe with a candle representing the person. Possibly, during Thanksgiving, a family can go around saying what they were thankful about when it comes to the person who is no longer there. 

“Sometimes, what we talk about in our grief group, is that it’s good to maybe sit down before the holidays and make a plan,” Von Gunten stated. “Death is the ultimate loss of control. Even if you knew it was coming, you couldn’t stop it from happening. Control is a helpful thing; it’s something that people who are grieving kind of yearn for and need. So if you can plan what’s going to happen during the holidays, that could be helpful.”

That plan, Von Gunten said, could consist of as much, or as little, as one would want. 

“Be gentle with yourself,” he said. “Whether it comes to cooking, or decorating the house, or wrapping presents, maybe you just say that you don’t have the energy for that this year; maybe we can pick it up again next year. And that’s okay. Maybe instead of one person cooking the big holiday meal, maybe it can be more of a potluck and everybody brings one dish. It’s also important to recognize that these kinds of things can bring about tears and laughter and multiple emotions all at once. And that’s okay. It’s okay to cry at Christmas. In fact, it’s healthy to be able to release whatever emotion you have. Any emotion is valid and real because we’re human. It is okay to laugh and smile during this time as well. You’re not betraying your loved one because you’re feeling okay. If you laugh at something or smile at something and you say, ‘Oh my gosh, I should be sad,’’ it’s okay! Whatever emotion you have – if you remember them and you love them, it’s okay.” 

It’s okay. Maybe that’s the message that needs to be spread more than anything when somebody is grieving. It’s okay. It’s okay to be sad. It’s okay to be happy. It’s okay to laugh and smile or cry and it’s okay to not want to be around anybody this year. All of those things are okay, and they’re valid. They are okay. You are okay. 

It’s also okay if you don’t know how to comfort a grieving person. What works for somebody may not work for somebody else. Sometimes people want to talk; sometimes they just want to listen. Other times, they just want to sit in silence with somebody that they care about. But Von Gunten does have some tips about how to be a ‘Grief Support Person,’ as he put it. 

“The first thing you need to be is somebody who always wants to listen,” he stated. “The grieving person needs to talk about their loved one as much as they need to, and a support person always, always, always, wants to hear about the person who died. They will also always, always, always accept the grieving person where they’re at. A grieving person is often overwhelmed by emotion and they also struggle with exaggerated emotions. They might be a little more irritable than usual at times, and they don’t always recognize that. They’re just overwhelmed. And so, a Grief Support Person will always accept them where they’re at, listen to them, and they won’t try to fix them. That’s the big thing. Just be present.” 

Sometimes, just being present is the greatest gift you could give to somebody, especially during the holidays. Just being around. Just being able to offer an ear, or a shoulder, or a hand to hold. But it’s important to do so on the grieving person’s terms. 

The greatest gift you can give to somebody who is dealing with grief through the holidays, is to remind them that they are not alone; that they don’t have to grieve by themselves. 

Central Wyoming Hospice & Transitions will begin offering Grief Support meetings for six weeks, beginning in mid-January. For more information on these groups, or to learn more about grief and how to handle it, visit the Central Wyoming Hospice & Transitions Services page.

Holiday “Cards of Caring”

It’s that time of year again! For kids and kids at heart, help us spread some Holiday cheer to our patients and Transitions clients with our annual “Cards of Caring” at Central Wyoming Hospice and Transitions.

Just make a card or send us one of your favorites, with your Holiday wishes. We’ll pass them on to our many patients and clients in Natrona and Converse counties, to bring some smiles this season.

“People have a lot of fun with this every year,” says Community Liaison Susan Burk. “It’s a great project for families, schools, churches, businesses, just about everyone. We get everything from beautifully crafted scrapbook cards to construction paper with cotton balls and glitter, and they’re all beautiful.”

You can send your cards to:

Cards Of Caring

Central Wyoming Hospice and Transitions

319 S. Wilson

Casper, WY 82601

You can also bring your cards to our Administration office at the same address, or drop them in our festive Drop Box out front nights and weekends.

Thank you for helping to spread the joy of the Season to your loved ones, friends, and neighbors!

For questions or more information, please contact Susan at or call (307) 577-4832.

A Place of Refuge: What You Don’t Know About Hospice Care

It’s derived from the Latin word meaning “hospitality” or “a place of refuge”, but most people upon hearing the word “hospice”, tend to cringe as if the word is itself a diagnosis of death. They often believe that “hospice” is a place, the nice Hospice Homes near the hospital where people go for the last few days of their life. The fact is, hospice is not a place, it’s a philosophy of care and a specialized field of medicine.

“Let’s be honest, it’s hard to talk about death,” says Susan Burk, the Community Liaison at Central Wyoming Hospice and Transitions. “When a patient and family hear ‘hospice’, there’s often already fear in their hearts. Hospice is not about death. It’s about life…having the best quality of life in the time that is given to you.”

At Central Wyoming Hospice, their team companions not only the patient but the entire family through the end-of-life journey, as their mission states, “with skill and compassion”. They work to make that journey what the patient wants, providing a plan and a path forward. Hospice patient-directed care prioritizes comfort, quality of life, and individual wishes and includes addressing physical, emotional, spiritual, and social needs.

November is National Hospice and Palliative Care Month, a good time to address the many myths and misconceptions about what Hospice is and isn’t.

  • Hospice is not a place. At CWHT, most patients are in their own homes, whether it be their residence in town, out at their ranch, or in an assisted living or nursing home facility. Their Chapman and Kloefkorn Hospice Homes are available to those who need that specialized level of care.
  • Choosing hospice care does not mean you’re giving up; rather, it’s a shift in the way you’re approaching your medical care. If you or your loved one no longer wants treatment or it’s not working, Hospice provides a way to live the rest of your days in comfort, peace, and dignity. It’s not about giving up, it’s about improving quality of life surrounded by family, in the comfort of your home.
  • Choosing hospice doesn’t have to be a permanent decision. You can leave a hospice program at any time for any reason without penalty. You can also restart hospice services at any time if you are medically eligible.
  • Hospice does not hasten death, neither does it prolong life. In fact, some studies show that hospice patients with certain illnesses may live longer with hospice care than those who choose another path. Again, the goal is to make the quality of the patient’s life the best it can be in their last months, weeks, and days.
  • Hospice will not take away all your medications. Your hospice nurse will go over your medications with you and your family to decide what you need to stay comfortable. Other medicines may be added to keep you relaxed and free of pain.
  • You don’t have to give up your doctor if you choose hospice care. Our team of nurses will work with your doctor to be sure you get the best quality of care.
  • There’s no time limit for hospice services. Although a doctor must decide that you have a six-month prognosis to receive hospice care, patients aren’t discharged after that time. There’s a recertification process. Many Central Wyoming Hospice patients have been with them much longer than six months, some even years.
  • A conversation is not a commitment, and the Care Coordination Team at CWHT is happy to answer any questions you may have.

“Having that conversation can be a powerful thing,” says Burk. “It’s not a a commitment for you, but it is a commitment for us to make sure everyone in our community has access to, and knowledge of, this unique care.”

Karen’s Masterpieces

Karen hasn’t asked for much in her stay in the Kloefkorn Home…diced tomatoes and melted butter with salt and pepper, sliced pepperoni, maybe a ride around town. When asked if there was something that our staff could do for her, she said she would love to have her art supplies.

This started the conversation…

Karen painted several oil paintings in her later life, teaching herself via Bob Ross tutorials. She proudly shared photos of her beautiful creations. Many of them reflected the gorgeous colors that are a mainstay in Wyoming, thanks to our mountain ranges, rivers, sunrises, and sunsets. Karen even painted on a mini-easel – only slightly larger than a thumbprint – a dare from a family member. “She didn’t think I could do it”, as she offered proof of the accomplishment.

And this started the mission…

A call was placed to local art supply shop Goedicke’s. Within 45 minutes, Cameron called back to say a bag of supplies would be ready the next morning, thanks to the generosity of owner Claire Marlow.

Karen was grateful for the surprise and quickly got to work, planning her next creation. We look forward to seeing Karen’s next masterpiece!

Karen with her new art supplies

Working Nights at Central Wyoming Hospice

Nurse Courtney with patient

“There are two major reasons enjoy working as a night nurse at Central Wyoming Hospice:   

The first is that because it is usually a little slower, I get to interact more with patients and their families, giving them a little more one on one attention.  The second reason is that I get to work closely with the awesome aides we have. We work hand in hand throughout the night to get things done. There is just great teamwork, collaboration, and support between the staff that works at night.”

– Courtney, RN

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