Archive for Emotions

Both are 5 Letter Words

angerWith his voice as cold as black ice on a winter road, the nephew kept repeating, “That type of thing should never happen. It wasn’t fair to my aunt.”

I agreed with him.

Every time.

The nephew’s aunt—who’d raised him since his single-parent mother had died before he entered kindergarten—was the most important person in his life. Her final days in hospice, as far as he was concerned, became her worst days.

Based on the brief chart notes I’d scanned about this sixty-something woman, I hadn’t expected any anger about hospice. When I phoned not long after her death to ask how he and the rest of the family were doing, his anger shadowed our entire conversation.

Here, though, I must pause.

[Disclaimer]

There was no nephew. I am making most of this up, based on my thousands of calls to people grieving in the first days after the death of a loved one. And there was no aunt. The “type of thing” that “should never happen” could include many different possibilities:

  • A social worker made a promise to bring a list of local companies for caregiving options, but never followed through.
  • A home health aide didn’t properly dry off the patient after a bath.
  • A hospice physician had scheduled a visit with the family in the morning, but didn’t arrive until late afternoon.
  • A chaplain said a prayer that was explicitly Christian, but the patient was Buddhist.

I could keep adding to this list of disappointments. All of them are possible, but none of what I mentioned happened to this fictional family with a “nephew” desperately hoping his beloved “aunt” would have a calm, easy, gentle death. Read More →

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

What If the Deceased is Despised?

In the grief support groups that I’ve led, I frequently refer to the person who died as, Your beloved.

A while back, my boss attended a hospice conference. After returning to the office, she posed a question from one of the workshop presenters: what if the person being grieved was not loved?

Should everyone be called a “loved one” or “beloved?” Read More →

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

What About the Other C in Hospice Care?

alone

When grieving a loved one, we may bottle up our angry-awful-anguished emotions . . .

When sharing about a new hospice patient, the nurse said, “Constipation and spiritual distress.”

And that was it!

Once a week, in the first hours of a work morning, a hospice team (chaplains, doctors, nurses, social workers, volunteer coordinators, and bereavement) gathers to review the patients. We’ll remember those who have recently died, discuss the current and ongoing patients, and take the first official “team notes” about the patients who have just entered into our care.

In most weekly meetings, there are several patients with sparse information because they were admitted in the prior twenty-four hours. There will only be the initial remarks from an intake nurse. However, if a patient had started with us several days before the meeting, the case manager nurse (and often the social worker) has had an opportunity to visit the home or care facility. More has been learned and discerned, and therefore more can be reported about the patient. The information will be listed in the medical chart, coupled with details for managing each plan of care. Pain will be reduced. Breathing will be improved. Potentially unnecessary medications will be evaluated and may be discontinued. Read More →

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather