Courage…to listen to personal journeys of loss
By Leanne Billiau
When a loved one has died, there is still a lot to say.
In my job as a bereavement coordinator, I provide support to families who have gone through our hospice program for thirteen months after the death.
I find that helping families through the grieving process is rewarding work; I walk, metaphorically, on sacred ground every day as I follow families along the path of bereavement. In fact, I think of hospice as my calling. When I reflect on my years of medical social work prior to joining a hospice care team, I feel that everything I did and everything I learned along the way was leading me to this very place. When I am asked how or why I work with grieving people, I tell them it is truly an honor to bear witness to another person’s suffering. Joy and happiness, grief and loss, it is all part of the human condition and we are in it together.
Winston Churchill once said, “Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak; courage is what it takes to sit down and listen.” I am grateful that I have the courage to sit down and listen to those who have the courage to stand up and speak about their personal journey of living with loss.
The bereavement support provided at my hospice, Holy Redeemer Hospice, includes mailings with supportive literature, support groups, special events, phone support, and bereavement counseling. We also have two memorial services a year to provide those living with loss an opportunity for remembrance.
Yes, the loss of a loved one can be devastating. And, no matter what the circumstances, it takes time to adjust to the new reality. I am grateful that I have the opportunity to walk the path of healing along with so many.
Thank you for sharing these words. Hospice social workers do very important work with and for the dying and their families. Your heart is clearly open and I am sure your clients are deeply grateful for what you do for them.
does hospice help the person die by giving them meds to put them to death and why can a person be talking and 10 min later died.
We are very sorry to learn of your loss and the difficulties that you and your children are experiencing during your time of grief. No, hospice does not give people medications that cause death. This common misconception refers to the practice of euthanasia and is illegal in the United States. This practice also conflicts with the philosophy of hospice, which is to help people live each day as fully and comfortably as possible. Medications used in hospice care bring comfort and relief of pain and other symptoms, not an early death. Your husband’s physician likely recommended or certified the need for hospice care because of the serious nature of his illness. Ensuring his comfort and providing you and your family with additional support was a priority.
Even when someone is on hospice care, it is not uncommon to be shocked by the seeming suddenness of their death. Changes and signs of slow decline are often missed when we care for someone on a daily basis. While many people who receive hospice services experience a slow, predictable decline before death, there are many illnesses and circumstances that do cause a sudden death. During our vast experiences caring for many people facing end of life, we have seen some people die suddenly from a heart attack, stroke, blot clot, or some other natural medical event that is a consequence of an illness. Others experience a long and protracted process of decline that can also bring distress for family members who fear their loved one is suffering.
Loss is hard, and having more questions than answers can make the process more challenging. You may find the blog post Dispelling hospice myths or our Useful Tools section helpful. We will also continue to address the important questions that you raise in future blog posts. Additionally, you may want to contact your hospice program, discuss your concerns, and seek support from the bereavement program.
Thank you for following Caring with Confidence and for sharing your story. It is a validation for others that may be experiencing the same fears or worries.
Terre and Val