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When it comes to dealing with grief, there’s no one-size-fits-all approach. Everyone grieves differently, and grief can affect individuals, families, and a person’s entire social circle. The grieving process can be especially complicated for those who are homebound or on hospice with a terminal illness.
Creating a plan of care for hospice patients must also incorporate grief. By including grief in an individual’s plan of care, we are able to meet the holistic needs of patients and support them throughout the process.
Hospice care is focused on supporting patients with terminal illnesses to be as comfortable and pain-free as possible. When an individual is put on hospice, grief can occur both personally and for family members. Many families of patients experience anticipatory grief before an impending loss. This type of grief can cause individuals to feel many unexpected emotions: fear, sadness, loneliness, anger, and more.
Coping with grief can look different for every patient and family member. What brings one person comfort may not help another.
Creating a personalized hospice care plan is one of the ways our hospice team can help support individuals and their families experiencing grief. From providing emotional support to additional resources, there are many ways hospice care can support grieving individuals.
To take things a step further, we offer a helpful bereavement program, which can support families during a difficult time in their lives. We provide one-on-one support, supportive phone calls and in-home support sessions to help each individual manage the grieving process and begin their healing process.
Whether you’re grieving a change in abilities or the loss of a loved one, each person’s grieving process is entirely unique. We incorporate grief into the plan of care for both hospice patients and their families To learn more, contact us anytime to learn more about how our hospice care can help support you and your loved ones through any stage of grief.
We all grieve differently, but one thing remains true for everyone: the importance of taking care of yourself. Whether you’ve found yourself in a state of just going through the motions or you’ve put all your focus on taking care of your loved ones, it can be easy to put your own needs on the back burner when facing the loss of a loved one.
However, it’s absolutely imperative that you take time to focus on yourself, too. In honor of Mental Health Awareness Month, we are discussing the importance of self-care throughout the grieving process.
Mental Health Awareness Month dates all the way back to 1949 when the National Association for Mental Health (now known as Mental Health America) first organized the observance in the month of May to help raise awareness and lessen the stigma attached to mental illness.
For a long time, society looked at mental illness as being just one thing. There was always a negative stigma attached to the term, and people often thought of those living with a mental illness as having ‘gone mad’. However, that is simply not true. Over time, we’ve learned more about the many layers and types of mental illness.
Mental illness is the term used to describe mental health conditions that impact a person’s mood, thinking, and behavior. Common mental illnesses include:
Losing a loved one can be a traumatic experience. You may feel as though you lost a part of yourself and that your life will never be the same. While there is some truth to this, it’s important to remember that you are still here and must go on living your life.
“We don’t move on from grief. We move forward with it.”– Nora McInerny
Feelings of sadness, anger, loneliness, and hopelessness are all common throughout the grieving process. However, these feelings can sometimes develop into chronic grief which can in turn become a mental illness. In some cases, grief can lead to depression.
Symptoms of chronic grief can include:
Self-care used to be thought of as bubble baths and pampering yourself, but there is much more to self-care. Just like the grieving process, self-care can look different for everyone. But the overall concept is to take care of yourself physically, mentally, and emotionally.
To take care of yourself physically is pretty simple: eat a well-balanced diet, drink plenty of water, exercise regularly, and practice healthy hygiene habits. However, taking care of yourself mentally is a little less cut and dry. This is where it really differs from person to person. To take care of yourself mentally and emotionally, you need to take time to do the things that make you feel good and happy. Hobbies are a good place to start when focusing on taking care of yourself mentally. Maybe you enjoy sitting outside and reading a good book, maybe you are an artist, maybe you enjoy taking long walks with your dog. Whatever it is that leaves you feeling happy and fulfilled, do it!
Research shows the more you practice self-care, the more confident, creative, and productive you are. This also leads to experiencing more joy, making better decisions, building stronger relationships, and communicating more effectively. Overall, you will be in a better frame of mind, making you a better version of yourself. This is not only good for you, but it’s also good for those who depend on you.
When you take time to take care of your whole self (physically, mentally, and emotionally), it will help you to process your feelings of grief in a healthier way.
Always remember that you do not have to face the journey of grief alone. Lean on friends and family to help you through. Don’t be afraid to talk about your feelings. Sometimes we feel the need to be strong for those around us. If this is the case and you would feel more comfortable talking to someone outside the family, lean on the support of your hospice bereavement team. Our kind, compassionate bereavement coordinators are always available to talk or just listen. Never hesitate to reach out.
If you or someone you love is struggling with their feelings of grief and would like to talk to one of our bereavement coordinators, please contact us at 1-800-314-9863.
By Jacquelyn Buffo, MS, LPC, CAADC
Losing a loved one to a terminal illness is one of the most painful experiences you can go through. The loss of a spouse or partner is traumatic for many people, and the grief journey can feel overwhelming, confusing, and painful. However, each person grieves and works through the grieving process at their own pace and in their own way. If you are grieving the loss of a partner or spouse, you are not alone. The month of April is Bereaved Spouses Awareness Month, observed since 2008. Bereaved Spouses Awareness Month provides support and resources for bereaved spouses.
The difficulty of losing a spouse is followed by a grieving process that can be challenging for many people. Grief is a process and includes many different types of symptoms, some more severe than others. Feelings such as shock, sadness, numbness, and even guilt can occur after losing a spouse. Your experiences of grief may be different than others, and it is dependent upon factors specific to you. Grief can present as intense emotions and can also present in behaviors.
For example, bereaved spouses may experience:
There is no right or wrong way to grieve, and support and help are available to you. An available resource along your journey of bereavement is hospice care. Hospice can help spouses prepare for the impending loss of a loved one. The hospice’s bereavement team can also help spouses after a patient passes. The mission of hospice care is to deliver compassionate, quality care to individuals with terminal illnesses and support the families through the caregiving phase and bereavement process.
Many spouses spend a significant amount of time and energy caring for and tending to their ill partners. But unfortunately, they may overlook their own needs and feelings during this time. Utilizing the hospice team as a source of support can help spouses tend to their emotions and needs when it is difficult.
If you are struggling with the loss of a loved one, it is vital to get the help and support you need. First, talk to a trusted family member or friend about what you’re going through. Loved ones can be strong sources of validation, support, and compassion. You can also talk to your doctor if you notice a change in behavior and mood or if you are having difficulty performing the normal activities of daily living, such as showering regularly and eating. Your doctor may be able to provide you with medication and can also provide you with referrals to a grief counselor or support group near you.
The holiday season is here, and what is a time of joy and togetherness for most can be a time full of sadness and grief for others. The holidays are meant to be spent with those we love, so how can you be expected to feel like celebrating when someone you love is no longer there to celebrate with you?
If you are missing a loved one this holiday season, here are some tips to help you take a step back from the grief and survive the holidays.
Let’s be honest, they are everywhere during the holidays. Preparing for these triggers and having a plan for coping with them can sometimes make the triggers more manageable as you encounter them.
Plan to get some space from the holiday chaos if you need it. Being surrounded by family and friends is great, but all at once can be emotionally overwhelming and hard to overcome. Don’t feel guilty about your grief. It is important to be conscious of your limits and take some time to recollect yourself.
The holidays are a time to gather together, eat good food, and share what we’re thankful for. If you’ve recently lost a loved one, it can be hard to feel thankful when you are grieving. Although you may be focusing on the loss, try to remember the good things that relationship brought into your life. Search for that gratitude.
Acknowledge that things will be different this year. Some holiday traditions will remind you of your lost loved one, but it is okay to limit which of these you allow yourself to remember or not. Take time to prepare for which traditions will make you happy and which will overwhelm you.
Although you may normally be the one to host during the holidays, this year may be too much to take on alone after losing your loved one. Accept help when it’s offered. Remember that there is no shame in saying yes. Those who love you want to help.
The holidays can be hard for those who have recently lost a loved one. Grief can be especially unavoidable during these times, but it is important to remember that you can still feel joy through the grief. Taking these tips into account can help you prepare for that grief and make your holidays more enjoyable.
Losing someone we love leaves us with feelings of unbearable pain, and while everyone grieves differently, there are five stages of grief that most people go through after experiencing a loss. Very Well Mind describes the five stages as follows.
The first stage of the grief process is denial. In this stage, we are trying to process the reality of the loss of our loved one. When we hear the phrase ‘denial,’ we assume it means we are attempting to pretend the loss does not exist. While this is denial, it is only a part of this stage. Experiencing denial also means we are trying to absorb and understand what is happening. When we lose a loved one, there is a lot of information to process at once. Denial attempts to slow down this process and take us through one step at a time to avoid the risk of feeling overwhelmed by our emotions. It takes time for our minds to adjust to the new reality of life without this person, and denial helps us to minimize the overwhelming pain of the loss.
Next, we move into the anger phase. Anger is very common to experience and tends to be the first thing we feel when we start to release our emotions related to loss. There is so much for our mind to process, and anger can serve as an emotional outlet. We become overwhelmed with feelings of sadness and vulnerability, and sometimes anger feels like the only way to express these feelings. We may also fear judgment or rejection if we admit that we feel vulnerable or scared so anger may feel like a safer way to express our emotions.
When we experience a loss, it is not unusual to feel so desperate that we are willing to do whatever it takes to alleviate the pain. This often comes in the form of bargaining, typically with a higher power. We often feel helpless, and bargaining can give us a perceived sense of control over something that feels so out of control. There are a variety of promises that people may make when bargaining. These can include things like, “God, I promise to turn my life around if you let this person live.” It is also common in this stage to recall times we said things we did not mean and wish we could go back and do things differently. We may also make drastic assumptions that if we had done things differently, we would not be in such an emotionally painful place in our life.
As the emotional fog begins to clear and panic begins to subside, we slowly start to really look at our new reality. At this point, bargaining no longer feels like an option, and we are forced to face what is happening. In this stage, the loss feels more present and unavoidable, and we feel it more abundantly. This can be extremely isolating, as we tend to pull inward as our sadness grows.
No one should ever have to face depression alone. If you or a loved one is struggling with depression, contact the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration (SAMHSA) Helpline at 1-800-662-4357 or the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.
When we reach the stage of acceptance, it is not that we no longer feel the pain of the loss. It means we are no longer resisting the reality of our situation. Feelings of sadness and regret can still be present once we have reached acceptance. However, the emotional survival tactics of denial, bargaining, and anger are less likely to be present.
Not everyone will experience each of these stages, while others may linger in one stage longer than others. It is important to remember that we all grieve differently. Your grief is unique to you, just like your relationship with the person you lost is unique. It is perfectly acceptable to feel whatever you are feeling.