At the Hospice Life Care, we understand that everyone grieves in his or her own way for varying lengths of time. Although grief eventually softens, during the first few months or even years it may ebb and flow and can take us by surprise when we least expect it. Sometimes our well meaning friends are concerned if we are still feeling the pain after a few months and we, ourselves, begin to wonder if we are ever going to feel better. Sometimes we feel better in a relatively short period of time and wonder if that is normal. Many of us experience a full spectrum of emotions for the first few months after our loss and it is for this reason that the Hospice Life Care provides bereavement support for family and friends throughout the first 13 months as a part of the hospice service.
Hospice Life Care recognizes that the first year after a loss can be the most difficult and emotionally challenging for family members and friends. Birthdays, anniversaries, even the change of seasons can bring forth memories of our loved ones and the events surrounding their death. During these times it is not unusual to experience emotional and physical symptoms related to your grief. Eating and sleeping habits may become skewed. People who are grieving a loss often describe such physical symptoms as headaches, emptiness or heaviness in the chest or stomach, backaches, shortness of breath, etc. Recognizing and validating both emotional and physical symptoms is an important step in the healing process. Healthy grieving involves going through our grief not around it.
Growing Through Grief: What is grief? Grief is a natural and healthy response to any change or loss. Grief can be a painful process, but the pain should subside in time. Sometimes the loss can bring relief, this too, is a reasonable response.
The grief path You may be familiar with the traditional definitions of grief stages: denial, anger, depression, bargaining, sadness, resolution, and acceptance. Not everyone experiences all these stages, nor do they happen in a neat progression. You may start at acceptance only to suddenly be overwhelmed with anger; you may never feel the desire to bargain. Perhaps relief is part of your experience. Everyone experiences loss and death in their own way. What matters is you understand that feelings happen, and in most cases, they are okay. By acknowledging your grief, you are practicing good personal care; a practice that will help support your healing. Your healing will be progressive; it is the emotional movement that eventually changes the sharp pain to a welcomed and treasured memory.
Take care of your emotional needs: Express your feelings - Talk about your grief. Holding it in can create more stress and more problems. Ask for help - People want to help but often they don't know what to say or do. Tell them what you need. For many people participation in a support group can be a great comfort. Ask for support - Friends and family can make difficult times easier. For many people, support from a faith community can be a great comfort. Hospice Life Care offers individual grief education and counseling and/or will refer out to local professional resources. Be kind to yourself - Some days will be harder than others but you will get through them. Avoid making major decisions until you have had time to grieve. Anticipate that special occasions may trigger sadness and mixed emotions. Forgive yourself- Some days you may be distracted from your regular activities. Allow yourself the time you need.
Attend to your physical needs:
Get enough rest
Try to stay healthy
Be alert for problems - These may include... -Lack of attention to daily tasks -Difficulty with simple decisions -Weight loss or gain -Difficulty sleeping -Lack of energy -Shortness of breath
Contact your health-care provider promptly for advice if you have any signs of health problems.
Bereavement Support Group
Hospice Life Care is pleased to be offering a support group for those who have experienced the death of someone close. With Bereavement Counselor Cary Quigley M. Ed.
When: Wednesdays, September 4 - October 23, 1:30-3:00 Where: The South Hadley Senior Center/COA 45 Dayton St, South Hadley MA
Grief is not an experience we can wish away by deciding to move on. Grief has its own timeline; it can show up in many ways, and can leave us unsure of our next steps.
Ms. Quigley will lead the group through:
•Conversations examining common responses to grief such as confusion, loss of concentration, fatigue, irritability, fear, or relief.
•Discussions about handling new and unfamiliar responsibilities; such as maintaining a home, handling the family finances, caring for a family member, or for some, learning how to shop for one.
•Sharing stories with others in similar circumstances.
We hope you can join us. Please call Ms. Quigley at 413-887-5552 for further information or to sign up. We look forward to sharing this meaningful experience with you.
Individual Grief Support
One to one contacts by visits or telephone, for emotional support or bereavement counseling
Information and education by mail, visit or telephone regarding the process of grief and mourning
Referrals for special bereavement needs
Please call Ms. Quigley at (413) 887-5552 for further information on individual bereavement sessions.