Grief is part of the human condition. According to the Family Caregiver Alliance, many loved ones of patients who receive hospice and palliative care experience anticipatory grief before losing a family member or friend. Experts agree grief isn’t linear or time-limited.
It is important to recognize feelings of grief as normal. If you need extra support, hospice and palliative care providers offer grief counseling and bereavement support for caregivers and hospice patients.
Is hospice or palliative care right for your family?
The best hospice providers offer physical, emotional and spiritual care for people with illnesses who have chosen to seek treatment for symptoms rather than a cure. Hospice providers typically offer these services during the last six months of life. However, patients who live longer may qualify to receive the services as long as they’re needed; or, in some cases, patients may even discontinue services at any time if they so choose as well. Hospice focuses on comfort and quality of life through the end of life.
Palliative care, on the other hand, is a multidisciplinary approach for people with acute and chronic serious illness. Medical professionals focus on treating disease symptoms rather than curing the disease. Palliative care addresses the physical, psychological, social and spiritual needs of patients, and can help lessen pain, control symptoms and relieve emotional and physical stress for both the patient and family.
How to recognize grief
Grief affects people in different ways. In 2020, with the COVID-19 pandemic taking up so much of our attention and contributing to increased anxiety, our world has shined a spotlight on grief. The following are just some of the ways people may experience grief:
- Emotional grief: Anger, anxiety, depression, irritability, guilt and passive resignation
- Physical grief: Crying, fatigue, headaches, overeating, loss of appetite and reckless or self-destructive behaviors
- Social grief: Anger that others’ lives are still going on as “normal,” feeling detached, needy or clingy, not feeling like socializing and wanting to be alone
- Spiritual grief: Frustration toward God or a higher power, seeking faith for solace and questioning why the disease or death happened, as well as the meaning of life and faith
Your hometown hospice provider
At Hospice of Southwest Ohio, our family-first values compel us to provide the highest quality, individualized services to residents of Clermont, Butler, Warren and Hamilton counties. We’re the only locally owned and operated hospice provider in the region surrounding Cincinnati, leading to our greater understanding of the differential needs of the area.
Our dedicated chaplains provide spiritual support to all who request it, respecting and affirming the beliefs of each individual to counsel to both the patient and family. Top-notch nurses, aides, physicians, social workers and volunteers round out the team.
Understanding that each patient and family has individualized needs, HSWO offers hospice care in your home, in healthcare facilities and senior living communities and in our own Care Center. We encourage families to choose the place where their loved one feels most comfortable, affirming support choices in an environment of dignity and respect. Employees and volunteers are empowered to fulfill our nonprofit mission every day, with every patient.
HSWO and our partner, CareBridge Services, spend greater time with patients to focus on symptoms affecting quality of life. Nurse practitioners offer assistance to individuals who are developing advance directives and goals for care, removing a major stressor for many individuals and families.
In their own words
The families with whom we have been blessed to walk the end-of-life journey have expressed gratitude for the quality of services they have received. They often lift our staff members for active listening, dedication to addressing the needs of the patient and responsiveness to concerns.
Joyce, a patient for over three years, said HSWO has been a godsend in her life.
“They care about me as a human being and not just a patient,” Joyce said. “I realized there are still people out there who truly care. My nurse practitioner doesn’t just come to do her job. She sits, talks with me and really listens. She lets me give her hugs (pre-COVID). I realize that if I need her, she is there!”
Another patient, Lois, shared that she doesn't like to take medications, so her nurse practitioner patiently offered alternate ways to help Lois take her medication and feel comfortable.
Lois said, “She connects with me just by listening to my concerns and makes the necessary changes. I cannot say enough great things about CareBridge Services and Hospice of Southwest Ohio.”
To learn more about the programs and services available to you by your hometown hospice provider, visit https://www.hswo.org/programs.