Family support does not end with the passing of the hospice patient. Bereavement services are provided by PHS Hospice Care for 13 months following the death of your loved one. The family will receive phone and visit support, along with regular mailings of literature that will support and educate family members as they grieve.
At PHS Hospice Care, we understand that the entire family walks the journey with their loved one and that after the death, there is still more work to be done for family members to learn to cope with their grief and to learn to adjust to life without the physical presence of the one who passed.
PHS Hospice Care agency also holds an annual Service of Celebration and Remembrance in which all patients who passed within the preceding year are remembered with music, rituals of remembrance and release, and time with hospice staff members. The meaningful services are held at various times throughout the year.
Grief and Bereavement
How long will this go on?
The journey through grief is a highly individual experience. Rather than focus on a timeline, it is perhaps more helpful to focus on grief’s intensity and duration. Initially, grief is overwhelming and people may feel out of control. With time, people find they have more ability to control their reactions to memories and emotions. The intensity of grief is related to the degree of attachment to the person, the type of relationship and other factors such as understanding and social support, personality and specific details of the bereavement.
Am I going mad?
It will certainly feel like it at times! Particularly if the individual’s need to grieve is out of step with social and cultural expectations. Grief affects people physically, emotionally, psychologically and spiritually. People may be required to make adjustments to their lives, e.g., learning new skills, at a time when they feel least able to do so. Validation and permission to grieve offer powerful comfort to a bereaved person’s experience.
Do I have the right to inflict this on others? What can I expect of them and them of me?
Others may feel intensely uncomfortable with the emotion and the pain of the bereaved to the point of feeling helpless. The anxiety this causes may mean that the bereaved person will be avoided – further increasing the possibility of them feeling isolated or being avoided or they may wish to withhold details of their grief to protect the person from further pain. It is important that the grieving person is assertive about their needs and wishes, and it is helpful if they communicate with family, friends, and colleagues rather than leave them guessing about what would be useful and comforting. Never underestimate the power of listening and being a warm presence. There are no magic words or actions. Trust your ability to care taking into account your relationship with the person you are trying to help.
Is there a right way and a wrong way of coping with grief?
People are individuals with unique personalities and life experiences, all of which influence the way they deal with grief. A person’s style of grieving must be respected and in this sense there is no right or wrong way of coping.
We hope the following links will be helpful for you, your family member or a patient. These links lead to websites about hospice care, care giving and pain management.
- National Association for Home Care and Hospicewww.nahc.org
- Caregiving – Insights, Information, Inspirationscaregiving.com
- U.S. Department of Health & Human Serviceswww.hhs.gov
- Hospice Foundation of Americawww.hospicefoundation.org
- Mayo Clinicwww.mayoclinic.com
- American Cancer Societywww.cancer.org
- MedicineNet – Health and Medical Information Produced by Doctorswww.medicinenet.com
- American Health Care Associationwww.ahcancal.org
- American Heart Associationwww.americanheart.org