Families often struggle with what comes next after the hospice care experience. When your mother or father has passed, even if their passing was peaceful and at home, other family members are left grieving. Trying to help your loved ones cope with grief is challenging. It is often even more difficult to know what to do when you are grieving yourself. As a hospice care provider, Salus Homecare South Bay witnesses families facing struggles like this every day. Our bereavement counselors are there to help, and here are some of the things they suggest trying.
First thing first, to provide support, you have to show up. While it is often tempting to turn away from loved ones and essentially go into a state of hibernation for awhile while you cope with your own grief, remember that others still need you. Your loved ones might feel confused, vulnerable and even in a state of chaos – the same emotions you are experiencing. Having you there, present and available makes a difference. There is no need for a script. You don’t have to talk just yet if you are not ready. Your simple presence is enough especially in the earliest stages of grief.
You Cannot Fix Grief
Being around a loved one who is experiencing grief might make you feel uncomfortable. This often leads to a natural inclination to “fix” everything. No matter how much you try to make it better, grief will not go away. You and your loved ones are grieving someone because you loved them. Phrases like “God called his angel home” or “she is in a better place, and there is no more suffering” might minimize grief in the short-term, but long-term, they do little to help. If you are not sure what to say, go back to just being present. Listen to your loved ones, hear what they have to say, spend some time crying together. Validation is likely what they need right now.
Life has lots of ups and downs, and we grow and change through all of them. After your loved one passes, it is often difficult to view the people who are left behind as being different than they were before. The reality is they are. While it is natural to want to view your father as your mother’s husband and the person he was when she was in his life, you have to let him grow and move forward. It is okay if this takes a little time, and in fact, it probably will. Just keep it in mind and do your best to try to accept and support this new version of your loved one.
Remember Your Loved One
While your loved one is gone, that does not mean that you have to let their memories fade away. In fact, it is better not to. Remember the special days. This might include baking your mom’s favorite summer recipe to enjoy beside the pool. Perhaps send a card to your dad on your mom’s birthday just to let him know you care. Call on anniversaries, send a quick text or take time to schedule a family outing. This does not mean that you approach each of these occasions as if the person was still here. It’s about remembering them and acknowledging the significant role they played in your lives. If your loved one cues you that they want to talk, take time to listen. This is a great opportunity for opening up and helping them to smile a little more.
The Importance of Following Through
Finally, remember to follow through on the things you have promised. If you tell your dad that you plan to take him to lunch, show up. If your mom asks you for a ride to the hairdresser and you say yes, arrive on time. It is pretty difficult to ask for help when you are grieving. If your loved one does, take that as an acknowledgement that they value and need you.
In closing, remember that hospice care is about more than just providing support while your loved one is here. Salus Homecare South Bay is here to help after they pass too. Many clients realize the benefits of bereavement counseling. It can help you to cope, come together as a family and move forward in a positive way. After all, that is certainly what your loved one would want for you.