How To Help The Family Of A Deceased Elderly Overcome Grief
The hospice can be a fun place when organizations and families host parties within the building. They sing the songs that the oldies used to hum to and love. They dance to entertain the senior audience, as well as the hardworking caregivers like you. Furthermore, the food is aplenty, and everyone is clapping and smiling.
Nevertheless, it’s not always a joyous experience to work in a hospice. After all, it is inevitable for people to grieve there. Some of the residents may be carrying a terminal disease, and it can take their lives any day. Others may not have a grave illness, but they can also die because of old age.
In both cases, you tend to see their respective families crying for their loss. Many of these people even visit the establishment from time to time since it was the last place where their parent or grandparent stayed at before passing away. It allows them to get a feel as well of how their loved one lived in that building.
Hence, considering you work in a hospice and you see the family of a deceased elderly, what can you genuinely do to help them overcome grief?
Don’t Assume That You Know How The People Feel
The primary thing you should do is avoid comforting people, claiming that you understand their pain. You cannot fathom what a long-lost son feels when he has never seen his mother for decades until the day she passed. Likewise, it’s impossible to imagine what emotions a wife or husband is dealing with, knowing that they outlived their one great love.
Although you’re trying to be thoughtful, you should realize that everyone experiences various levels of sadness. It’s not something you can loosely speak of, especially when you haven’t lived as long as the elders or gone through the same family issues that they have. For that reason, it’s better to offer your condolences and assume no more. David B. Feldman Ph.D. says that “It takes courage to support someone going through pain. The natural human temptation is to run away from discomfort. But when we truly care about someone, we overcome that tendency, opening ourselves up to the person’s feelings instead.”
Show Your Real Compassion
What seems to be unhelpful for families is realizing that their dearly departed is nothing but a number in the hospice. Once the body gets taken to the morgue, and the belongings of the deceased go to the loved ones, some lose contact with the nursing care associates. After all, a new senior citizen will most likely come in a few days, and they have already paid their respect in the facility.
Well, the thing is, if your goal is to help a family overcome grief, you should show more heart than that. It won’t take much out of you to go to the elderly’s wake on your off day and talk shortly with the relatives they left. By doing so, these people will feel that the hospice workers genuinely care for their residents. Seeing that the deceased parent or grandparent receives compassion even after death might ease some of their pain.
According David Sack M.D., “Shock, numbness, denial, anger, sadness, and despair are the feelings most people cycle through after the loss of a loved one. These emotions can persist in varying degrees for many months afterward.” It will also mean a great help for families to have at least one hospice worker available to talk to them whenever they visit the facility to reminisce about their loved one’s last days on earth. You can talk about the elderly’s daily routine when he or she was still alive. You may lead them to his or her usual spot after lunch or which fellow resident they’re close to the most. It promotes healthy grieving, which profoundly matters right after losing someone. “Supporters often feel unsure about how to help. Directly asking for guidance can overcome indecision about what to do.”, Jason Spendelow Ph.D. notes.
Alternatively, you can recommend various organizations that offer social support to those who can’t get over the death of a family member.
As a hospice worker, you cannot utter big words when you know they are not true. You shouldn’t speak of familiar quotes about moving on either since: 1) they don’t work, and 2) those folks surely have heard of them before. However, you are free to be compassionate and supportive until the family accepts that their deceased loved one is in a much-improved place now.