Exploring the Necessity of Grief and How Bereavement Support Can Help

When a loved one dies, it’s always hard. When you have watched that loved one die slowly over days, weeks and months in hospice, it can be even more heart-wrenching and exhausting. Often, when we think of grief, we think about the emotional toll it takes on us. However, Psychology Today points out that grief affects us on a variety of levels, impacting our thoughts, behaviors, social interactions, spiritual beliefs and even physical well-being. You may experience loss of sleep and appetite, weight loss or gain, headaches, stomach pain, fatigue, and muscle aches and pains. These are all reactions to grief.

So are conflicting emotions of panic, regret, guilt, anger, and sadness. They may come on all at once so that you feel like you’re experiencing all those emotions in just a few minutes. But they are all common and they are all necessary stages of the grieving process. Perhaps one of the most overlooked components of grief is the social withdrawal that may come with it. Many of your friends and acquaintances may expect a brief grieving period and be there to support you but as time goes on, they may not understand why you can’t just “snap out of it.” They may try to “fix” you and encourage you to move on with your life. While they are well-intentioned for doing so — after all, this is human nature — you may resent this constant harping to get better. You may just want to stay home with your feelings in an effort to avoid disappointing others. You may even feel angry at them for moving on when you clearly can’t.

While your friends and family may sympathize with what you’re going through, they may not be able to empathize. Empathy is the ability to truly identify with someone’s experience from their perspective because you have gone through the same thing yourself. This is where bereavement support can be a life saver.

Support Groups

One major part of bereavement support is the role of the support group.These groups can help you cope better and feel less isolated as you make connections with others facing similar challenges, says the Mayo Clinic. Whether you’ve just lost your mother after a long fight with cancer, your father from heart disease, or a child from a terminal illness, there are support groups out there specifically for those needs. You can find these resources through your hospice care provider, social worker, hospital, nursing home, doctor, school, library or online.

Pathways Home Health and Hospice, for example, has a variety of support groups for those who have lost a spouse, child or parent. These groups explore common issues affecting the grieving, such as lifestyle changes, coping skills, anger, loneliness and more.

Support groups are a crucial part of the grieving process. You may feel intimidated and embarrassed to share your feelings in a group setting. You may feel resentful that you’re even there in the first place. But support groups can help you develop new skills to relate to others, as those members of the group are experiencing the same problems and can suggest new ways of dealing with your grief, says WebMD.

Other Helpful Ways of Coping

In addition, to support groups, there are other ways to explore and deal with your grief. These include healing workshops (Pathways offers many), journal writing, meditation, creating a memorial garden, group walks and more. One-on-one grief counseling, often offered by hospice care centers, puts you in touch with a trained grief counselor to offer added support. Memorial services at your local church, hospice provider, or community center can also provide comfort during this difficult time. Pathways offers a Celebration of Light every December, as well as Afternoon Remembrances in the spring.

Why Grief is Necessary

The process of grief and mourning are universal, experienced by all walks of life and all cultures. Back in 1969, Elisabeth Kübler-Ross wrote about the five stages of grief and loss in her book On Death and Dying. They still hold true today:

1. Denial and isolation

2. Anger

3. Bargaining

4. Depression

5. Acceptance

Not everyone goes through every stage in order. Some may skip one stage and get stuck in another, while others may experience them all briefly. Many never fully achieve a peaceful acceptance of their loss. The bottom line is, everyone expresses their loss with varying levels of intensity, spending different lengths of time in each stage, says PsychCentral.

Contact Pathways Home Health and Hospice

Contact us to learn more about our bereavement support at 888-755-7855. Rest assured, we offer bereavement services to anyone in the community in need of this support, regardless of their participation in our hospice care services. Bereavement support is free but we kindly ask for donations to the Pathways Foundations to continue providing support.