The word ‘grief’ can be quite personal. The meaning of grief for each person is defined by past experiences. Personal losses and life-altering tragedies, even those of long ago, affect today’s grieving process. Each past loss leaves its own memory, be it now faded or still raw with pain.
The Hospice Foundation of America describes the importance of being able to “allow your grief” because it is natural to do so. The point is made that when grief is suppressed it “doesn’t go away”. Your process with grief and the way you deal with it, and that of your loved ones, is personal.
Memories of loss can bring insights along with sadness. Chances are you learned something about yourself through your experiences with losses. Recollections of how you adapted to past loss can help with living with today’s grief. Doing so may reveal support and guidance that would have helped you through a past trying time. Each of these lessons from your memory can help with the grief you are currently enduring.
Hospice Care, regardless of the setting in which it is provided, offers grief and loss-associated services for a family throughout the time of care. These include care provided by a spiritual adviser, a medical social worker, and grief and loss counseling (Hospice Foundation of America, 2014B).
You want to know how to deal with this grief yet be hopeful, even as you face the unknowns of each day.
Grieving when a loved one is in hospice has its own significance. It is very personal. Being able to express what you feel, and how you choose to express your grief, is important for your process and wellbeing. A person you cherish is suffering and is not likely to live much longer. You want to know how to deal with this grief yet be hopeful, even as you face the unknowns of each day. Moments when your loved one is awake are precious, and give you the chance to share comfort. These can include recalling special memories, allowing grief to fade into the background, even if only for brief moments. Meaningful steps to add to your loved one’s and your peace include:
- Sharing short stories about favorite pastimes;
- Describing her/his special interests and life contributions;
- Recalling moments of humor;
- Playing his/her favorite music;
- Holding hands or applying lotion;
- Reading and/or praying together;
- Looking at a few special family photos; and
- Sitting in the silence of loving companionship.
This list gives you some ideas for creating moments of peace and comfort for your loved one who is in hospice care. When you contribute to another’s comfort, doing so promotes your own. Consider ways to take care of yourself that contribute to your emotional health. These self-care steps can positively affect overall wellbeing when practiced regularly (Hospice Foundation of America, 2014A). Set aside time, even if sparingly, to:
- Participate in a physical activity, especially one that you enjoy;
- Enjoy healthy snacks and meals with fresh produce, whole grains, and foods that bring you comfort;
- Engage your interests—creativity offers its own rewards;
- Write in a journal or talk story with friends and family because of the healing power of holding witness to each others’ experiences;
- Be patient and gentle with yourself; and
- End each day with thoughtful moments for peaceful closure.
- Hospice Foundation of America. (2014A). Survival tips for grief. Retrieved from https://hospicefoundation.org/End-of-Life-Support-and-Resources/Grief-Support/Journeys-with-Grief-Articles/Survival-Tips-for-Grief
- Hospice Foundation of America. (2014B). What is hospice? Retrieved from https://hospicefoundation.org/Hospice-Care/Hospice-Services