Archive for Refusing Help

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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I’m Busy!

busyExpected or unexpected, after a long life or unfairly short, death comes.

It never arrives alone . . .

  • The bills, sympathy cards, and junk mail pile up like a paper Everest.
  • There are endless follow-up phone calls and half the people don’t call back.
  • You’ve found most documents for the estate, except several are missing key pages with signatures and you’ve looked everywhere, including under the beds.
  • The woman at the funeral home was so kind, but the insurance agency had a confusing phone menu and you still haven’t talked to a real person.
  • The dimwit at the credit card company demanded an official death certificate to close the account even though their web page promised they’d take copies.

Your loved one has died and the business of the estate swamps you. For some, nearly everything is organized because your loved one was a good planner. Folders were labeled. Contact info for insurance and credit card companies were on a spreadsheet. But even with easy-to-find details, “closing the estate” is exhausting.

However, most folks aren’t that organized.

Whether a loved one was thoughtful or neglectful about their finances, your energy in their last months (or years) has focused on coping with the ever-changing demands as their health declined. Who cares about future obligations when a loved one is in pain right now? You should’ve asked your Mom where she kept the stupid little key to the jewelry box when she was alive, but there was always tomorrow . . . until there wasn’t. You should’ve asked your husband about the new insurance agent’s name because the old one had retired. But it was more important to reminisce than to ask dumb questions about “business.”

And what if it was a “sudden death?” Literally everything will be a mess with non-stop stress. Read More →

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The Second R: Hospice Respite*

restI’m not practicing what I’m about to preach on respite* in hospice.

But I have good excuses! (Doesn’t everyone?)

In hospice, a family should consider Medicare’s respite benefit when the patient—when your loved one—has been receiving care for an extended period of time.

Respite is rest. Respite is taking a break from the intensive and extensive support of a beloved family member or friend who is dying. Respite, based on the guidelines of the Medicare hospice benefit, can be for up to five days.

But taking a break is the proverbial easy to say and hard to do.

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Let me give you a trivial personal example of the need we can have for respite. Read More →

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