Archive for Refusing Help

Everyone (mostly) Needs Help

According to the social worker’s earliest notes on the medical chart, the patient’s son didn’t want any grief support after his father died.

The nurse who’d cared for his father echoed those sentiments when the family was discussed in the hospice team meeting. Since the patient—the father—had been in our hospice’s care for several months, there had been multiple visits by the social worker, nurse, and chaplain. All agreed the son said (before and at the time of death) that he was okay. Additionally, the son’s cousin—more like a trusted friend since childhood—happened to be one of our hospice nurses.

This cousin/nurse affirmed what others concluded: the son had shared he didn’t need additional bereavement support after his father’s death.

He.

Was.

Fine.

But the cousin, my hospice colleague, also said to me, and to the social worker who’d write the official chart notes, that the son should be contacted anyway.

“Give him a call,” the cousin/nurse said. Read More →

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A Cursed, Crushing, Conflicted Concoction of Feelings

Long ago, maybe around Easter, with Dad, my younger sister, and me . . .

When my father bellowed and ordered me to leave his home, it was as if a double-edge knife had penetrated my heart. Like a rusty, bent blade, it twisted with the volume and intensity of Dad’s outburst.

One side of the blade was love. One, hatred.

We did not know then about his dementia.

Odd how, with those we love the most and the surest, we can experience such damning and damaging of reactions.

Dad’s unexpected roar came partway through a mundane visit home, where I balanced time with my parents while attending a conference. Fine! If he didn’t want me around—though I had no clue why—I could find a motel near the downtown conference, crash with a friend attending the event, or head home where my wife and pets would at least treat me with respect.

Mom intervened.

Odd to sit around the old kitchen table, with my parents now married for six decades, and to have your mother forcefully demand that her husband apologize to their son. Dad did. Looking back now, why wasn’t it obvious? He was hardly smiling anymore. His eye contact with others had become random and held no welcome or curiosity. At that table, Mom chided him. Mom warned him. Mom prevailed. 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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