Losing a loved one is a difficult and tragic situation to deal with. Whether the death results from a long illness or is sudden and unexpected, it can be very hard for family and friends to cope with the loss of a loved one. Although there isn’t any way to take away the pain that death leaves with the surviving loved ones, there are ways to cope and continue with life.
At Piedmont Hospice, bereavement care is an integral part of our plan of care for both families prior to and after the passing of a loved one. Grief and mourning are an integral part of the healing process for a spouse, family member or friend after the loss of a loved one. The Bereavement Program at Piedmont Hospice is available to help individuals through the healing process. The program continues for up to 13 months after the passing of a loved one and helps family and friends deal with the feelings of sadness, loss and grief. We understand there is never enough time to prepare for a loss, but with support, time to grieve, patience and effort, there can be acceptance.
UNDERSTANDING YOUR FEELINGS OF GRIEF
Grief is a normal reaction to loss that can literally turn your world upside down. Your emotions, thought processes, behaviors and physical well-being are all affected by grief. Most people who suffer a loss typically experience one or more of the following reactions:
- Anger or increased irritability
- Frustration or annoyance
- Inability to concentrate
- Change in appetite – eating more or losing appetite
- Sleep disturbances – sleeping too much or not at all
- Physical complaints
- Sudden mood swings
- Lack of energy
There is no “time limit” for resolving feelings of grief. Everyone goes through the grief process at his or her own pace and it’s important to have realistic expectations about the various reactions you will experience. For example, you can expect that:
- Your grief will take more energy than you would have ever imagined.
- Your grief will involve many changes and will be continually developing.
- Your grief will show itself in all spheres of life; psychological, social and physical.
- Your grief will depend upon how you perceive your loss.
- You will grieve for what you have lost already and for what you have lost for the future.
- Your grief will entail mourning – not only for the person you lost – but for all the hopes, dreams and unfulfilled expectations you held for and with that person, and for the needs that will go unmet because of his or her death.
- Your loss will resurrect old issues, feelings and unresolved conflicts from the past.
- You will have some identity confusion, not only as a result of the loss, but also because you are experiencing reactions that might be quite different for you.
- You may have a combination of anger and depression that result in irritability, frustration, annoyance or intolerance.
- You will feel some anger and guilt, or at least some manifestations of these emotions.
- You may have a lack of self-concern.
- It is normal to feel suicidal; fantasizing about a reunion with your loved one can help you cope, but you should get help if you are concerned or make concrete suicide plans.
- You may experience grief spasms (acute upsurge of grief) that occur suddenly, with no warning.
- You will have trouble thinking and making decisions due to memory, organization and intellectual processing issues.
- You may be obsessed with death or preoccupied with the deceased.
- You may begin a search for meaning and may question your religion and/or philosophy of life.
- You may find yourself acting socially in ways that are different from before.
- You may find yourself having a number of physical reactions.
- You will find that society will have unrealistic expectations about your mourning and may respond inappropriately to you.
- You may find that there are certain dates, events and stimuli that bring upsurges in your grief.
- Certain experiences in later life may resurrect intense grief for you temporarily.
Your grief may bring with it an intense amount of emotion that will surprise you and those around you. It will not only be more intense than you expected, but will also be manifested in more areas and ways than you ever anticipated. Your individual experience will depend upon the social support and your physical state.
More often than not, those who are grieving receive insufficient assistance from friends and society. Piedmont Hospice has set in place various bereavement services to assist after the loss of a loved one.
The Bereavement Coordinator calls or visits families to identify bereavement needs. The Coordinator is available before and after the passing of a loved one. Our bereavement coordinators are specifically trained and experienced in the process of grief and loss.
Emotional support may be provided by trained volunteers through monthly phone calls, visits and assisting with family needs. Volunteers are available to listen to families and friends in need of companionship.
HOSPICE MEMORIAL SERVICES
Services are a celebration of life for families to remember their family member, reconnect with the hospice team and reflect. Memorial services are a time to celebrate the life of a loved one and remember them through liturgy, scripture, song, music and reflection. Families and friends are invited to attend. The name of hospice patients are read during the services and families and friends are invited to release a butterfly or dove in remembrance of their loved one.
Monthly support groups provide an opportunity for mutual sharing and support. Those who have suffered a loss have an opportunity to discuss their feelings and changes the loss has brought to their lives. Participants can share coping methods for dealing with emotions and get reassurance that they are not alone in their loss.
For more information about our bereavement program or to speak with someone about bereavement care, call the Upstate office at 864.721.2900 or the Lowcountry office at 843.766.3331.