Archive for Grief

World’s Best Pie and a Perfect Death

At a weekly hospice patient care meeting, the medical director shared about a patient longing for one last overnight trip to the family’s mountain cabin. The drive would take a couple of hours from his home to the place the patient’s grandfather had built before World War II.

“I’d like to sit on the front porch again,” the patient had said. “In the early morning, you can always see deer grazing on their way to the lake.” The patient then added, “And there’s a diner not too far away with the world’s best berry pie. I’d like to share a slice with my Annie for old time’s sake.”

Annie was his wife of five decades.

“Would it be okay if we go?” Read More →

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There’s No Gift Like Cancer?

This is what a hospice nurse said the patient said:

“My cancer is a gift from God.”

What is your first reaction to that? How about something like, You’ve got to be kidding!

Or . . . Does that patient have a terminal and mental illness? Or you’d be speechless and roll your eyes . . . or shake your head and mutter several tsk-tsks . . . or clamp your jaw shut because Mom told you that if you didn’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything.

Or would you nod your head in reluctant agreement?

Can you imagine that last reaction—nodding and agreeing—to the patient’s pronouncement? I can, though it helped to hear the nurse’s report of the patient’s complete sentence . . . Read More →

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Don’t Ever Call Me Again

Since it’s my job, I don’t take it personally when phoning grievers and they don’t want to talk with me.

Which is a lie.

I do. Take it personally.

In a recent call, a spouse’s anguished voice telling me to never call again wasn’t only about me. Instead, this was a “No” to anyone at the hospice that had cared for his beloved. This griever was also saying “No” to receiving monthly letters that might help healing during the worst of grief. His “No” closed the door on a lot of resources.

This next part is fictionalized, because I know nothing about “Mr. No.” (Though it could describe many anguished wives and husbands.)

  1. His deceased wife was a soulmate for nearly forty years of marriage and they’d known each other since the first day of college.
  2. Like so many families, the kids were far-flung, with two working in other cities and another about to have a child. Their father didn’t like to bother them, in good or bad times.
  3. The family business was small and hugely dependent on 60+ hour weeks . . . and most work had been postponed for months during the time of dying.
  4. There weren’t many close friends (see #3 above) and the majority were really his wife’s friends. Would her death be the death of those relationships?

[Disclaimer.]

And, if you want to toss in a #5, anything that is a reminder of the death is devastating. He’s not the crying type and anyone asking How-are-you-doing? causes him to think about her and those damn tears might start spilling from his eyes. And that will make him angry, and he’s really not the angry type. No, he’s the type that sets goals, pays taxes, serves his customers, saves for the future, gives to charity, attends church, and generally everything in his life is good. He—they—sacrificed a lot to achieve this point.

Now good is gone.

His wife has died. Read More →

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