Grief can be described as an intense or deep sorrow felt by an individual or community due to a loss. This loss may not always be due to the death of a loved one but can arise from a number of changes in our lives. These changes can include the loss of a job, the end of a marriage, the loss of a pet and so on.
When we talk more specifically about grief in a hospice setting, we are referring to the sorrow that is felt when we are told that we or someone we love has a terminal illness. The grief journey begins the moment we hear such devastating news. Grief can manifest in many ways. We may express our grief through shedding tears, expressions of anger, and surprisingly, even through expressions of relief and happiness.
When considering grief in relation to the loss of a loved one, we often think of the loss of our own identity that accompanies death. A spouse who loses a partner may grieve the part of their identity that changes when that spouse dies. That individual will become a widow or a widower instead of a husband or wife. When a child dies, you may feel like you’ve lost that identify of being a parent. When a parent dies, you may feel like your identity as a daughter or son has died with them. These realizations can be overwhelming at times.
One of the greatest misconceptions about grief is that it has a time limit. Grief does not fit into a schedule. Some may process their sorrow and feel at peace quickly while others may experience episodes of grief for years after the loss. Each scenario is common; however, some may experience difficult grief.
Difficult grief can often lead to changes in the ability to live life in the same manner prior to the death of a loved one. They may have difficulty getting out of bed in the morning or completing daily routines such as bathing, preparing meals, or household chores prior to the loss. Identifying difficult grief is important so that a secure support system can be developed to help an individual continue moving forward in their journey.
At A*Med Community Hospice, our Bereavement Coordinators are available to assist you with the help you may need. Our Chaplains and Social Workers assess and support patients and families prior to a patient’s passing to ensure a safe, adequate space for everyone to express their feelings and worries.
The important thing to remember about the grief journey is that it is our own. No two people grieve the same and it is important to recognize this and have patience and love for ourselves if our journey does not match the journey of those around us.
Elisabeth Kubler-Ross and David Kessler wrote in their book, On Grief & Grieving, ”The reality is that you will grieve forever. You will not ‘get over’ the loss of a loved one; you will learn to live with it. You will heal and you will rebuild yourself around the loss you have suffered. You will be whole again, but you will never be the same. Nor should you be the same. Nor would you want to.”
Our Bereavement Team follows and supports our families for a full year after the passing of your loved one. Our Team is available to listen to your story and to walk with you along your journey. We are available to make visits to offer a listening ear and words of encouragement. We follow up with each family by reaching out and assessing your needs. We will provide resources and referrals should you discover that you require more in-depth therapy or to help you find a grief support group. We also send out regular mailings with information about the grief process and how to reach out to us should you need additional support.