Archive for Grieving

The Normal, Never-Normal Anguish of Grief

Trees

In grief, the seasons of life need to unfold…

She is crying. I reassure her it’s normal.

He hasn’t shed a tear. I reassure him that’s normal.

After several days of her loving adult children gathered to support her, the mother—now a widow, though she already dislikes the label whenever it appears on a form—tells me she wishes her kids would leave and give her a little private space. But she can’t muster the courage to tell them.

I tell her that’s normal.

[Disclaimer]

The nurse who visited the Hmong-American family (or substitute Russian-American or Mexican-American) after the beloved patriarch died reported that some of the family were drunk, some wailed, some argued, some crowded in the house, and some remained outside. Most told the nurse they appreciated hospice’s care while a few blamed hospice for his death. In her report for the medical chart, the nurse wrote the family’s grief was . . .

Normal.

But in hospice, and in grief, is there such a thing as normal? Read More →

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Dog Rules for Grieving

Dog rules

I was on the phone with someone whose loved one died a few days ago. This person hurts physically, emotionally, and spiritually. But grieving, nowadays, has become worse. With its shelter-in-place and social-distancing demands, the Covid-19 pandemic widens and deepens grief.

And then my dog arrived.

How odd to work at home and not the office!

My five-year-old golden retriever shoved her head into my available hands after the conversation started. Can’t those hands (“free” because of iPhone ear buds) get busy? 99.5% of my concentration remained with the person whose loved one has died. But maybe 00.5% was devoted to the “pet me” demands of my furry friend! Elsewhere in the house, my wife Zooms with colleagues. One of our cats is lounging on a table, and the other feisty feline is probably outside keeping us safe from rambunctious squirrels.

We talked. I listened. I offered encouragement. I reminded the grieving “client” about my hospice’s resources. Currently, we are not doing in-person counseling sessions but our grief counselors will reach out by phone or online or both. Soon, we will start grief support groups for the summer, though they might have to rely on the now ubiquitous Zoom platform.

And I kept petting Kynzi. Read More →

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Everything has Changed

Mormon Temple

On a typical early Saturday morning, there are usually a dozen to a hundred cars in the lot. Not last Saturday . . .

Not long ago, I called a young man in Boston, Massachusetts. His beloved grandmother had died in my California-based hospice’s care about four months ago. As with all hospices, we continue grief support after the death. Sending monthly letters with helpful information for a full year is one of our several “tools” for ongoing contact.

He had appreciated the first mailings.

In that recent call to his home in Boston, he asked me to stop the mail.

Why? The novel coronavirus. This pandemic. This disrupter of every aspect of our living, and our dying. How things have changed in a day, in a week, in a year. The young man shared that he was more reluctant to take the short trip to his mailbox. And he had read cautionary words about sealing envelopes with a moistened cloth versus a quick tongue lick. My hospice sends thousands of letters out every month: we don’t lick each envelope! But how can the receiver of the mail tell the difference when fearful or worried?

Wasn’t he overreacting? Read More →

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