Preparing for A Loss

March 17, 2020

Losing a loved one is perhaps one of the most difficult things a person can experience. Despite this being an incredibly emotional and stressful time, there are things you can do throughout the dying process that can be helpful to you and your loved one.

Spend Quality Time

Caregiving can be so difficult and time-consuming, it is easy to forget that the time you have left is important to both you and your loved one. It is important to say what you need to say, share laughs, tell stories and create memories. These memories can help as you navigate your way through the grieving process. Journaling about a loved one’s life and the special things they say can also be very therapeutic during the grief process. Unity offers Reflections Journals to patients and families to encourage these important discussions.

Take Care of Yourself

Caregiving combined with grieving can be extremely stressful and overwhelming. Taking time for yourself, doing things you enjoy, and spending time with family or friends can help you cope better. If you feel you need a break from caregiving for your own emotional and physical health, Unity can help by providing a referral to hired caregivers, or arranging a respite stay. The Unity team recognizes the importance of caring for the caregiver.

Know What to Expect

Observing changes in your loved one’s physical health can be upsetting and confusing. It is important to learn what typical signs of disease progression can look like. Your hospice team members are able to provide education and information regarding signs of dying that can help you prepare and ease some feelings of shock as your loved one declines. This knowledge can also help you feel more in control.

Knowing your Loved One’s Wishes

Having difficult discussions to complete advance care plans and funeral plans can be helpful in preparing for loss. Being prepared can give you a sense of peace in knowing you are following your loved one’s wishes. Oftentimes in hospice we find patients have specific requests in their last days, such as having quiet music, candles, and certain family/friends in the room with them as they are dying. Planning a funeral is also difficult, but the personal touches from your loved one can help the funeral feel more meaningful and reflective of their life. Your Unity team can also assist you in beginning these discussions and making arrangements meaningful for you.

It is important to remember that as you grieve, there are resources available to help and give you the support you may need. Unity social workers and chaplains are available for support, and Unity also has an excellent grief services program available after your loved one dies. Even if your loved one is not a Unity patient, these services are available to you. Please call Unity at 920-338-1111 if you are in need of support or help.

This blog post was shared by Molly Carriveau, Social Worker at Unity Hospice.

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