Grief is like an ocean. It can come in large waves that knock us down and consume us in the moment. At other times, there are moments of peace interrupted by periods of longing and sadness. There is no timetable to follow, and there is no right or wrong way to grieve. We do not get over grief. We get through it, with the help and support we can receive from others, and our own commitment to heal and live a full life. In this way, we honor our loved one, and our own journey.
Grief is not limited to the period following the death of a loved one. Grief may be experienced prior to their passing as we see parts of the person we loved slipping away. During the grieving process you may find yourself:
- Crying at unexpected times
- Experiencing forgetfulness or a sense of disorganization
- Needing to tell and retell stories of your relationship
- Having difficulty sleeping and feeling exhausted
Caring for the Caregiver
Caring for someone suffering from a chronic or terminal illness can be a very challenging and rewarding experience. We often enter into this care-giving role with little or no training and with no real knowledge of how long we will remain in this role. It is natural to feel like you can do it all and that you must be the one to carry out this role for your loved one. You may put aside your needs and wishes and even your own health concerns to provide the care needed for your loved one. It may feel very selfish to want time away or to want a break from being the caregiver. These are common experiences among caregivers, but in order to avoid caregiver burnout and maintain your own sense of well-being, it is important to take time away and care for yourself. Ask for help from others around you and accept the help offered by friends and family. Give yourself permission to take time to attend to your own health needs including adequate sleep, good nutrition, exercise and healthy activities that contribute to stress relief. Find a trusted friend or a professional to confide in and seek encouragement from caregiver support groups.
Family and friends may want to give permission to your loved one to let go. A dying person may try to "hang on" even though it brings prolonged discomfort, in order to be assured that those left behind will be alright. A family's ability to reassure and release the dying person from this concern is the greatest gift of love they can give at this time. When your loved one is ready to die, and friends and family are ready to let go, this is the time to say goodbye in personal ways. You may want to lie in bed with your loved one, hold their hand, and say everything you need to say. Tears are a natural part of making peace and saying goodbye, so they do not need to be hidden or apologized for; they are an expression of love. Giving your loved one permission to go is not the same as telling them you want them to die. It is letting them know that when they feel it is their time to let go of this world you will be okay.
If you are interested in our Grief Support Groups, Click on our "services" tab to learn more.