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Grief Advice from the Professionals

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As an employer of professional CAREGiversSM, independently owned Home Instead® franchise offices understand the importance of supporting their staff through difficult hospice situations.

CAREGiver of the Month Tammy Queen felt overwhelmed at the thought of losing a longtime client, so during the client’s first week of hospice care, Tammy got on the phone and called her Home Instead office. She let her emotions go and shared a cathartic cry with a staffer. “She was awesome, listening to me,” Tammy said.

In fact, professional caregivers can become like family, being asked to play a role in memorial services and other intimate family moments. But these close personal attachments can make the loss of a client as traumatic to CAREGivers as it is to their family members.

Home Instead recommends watching for these five stages of grief during or after hospice situations:

  1. Denial – People may feel shock, disbelief or numbness. Denial or numbness can be a helpful defense mechanism. Denial is a way for the mind to take in shocking news more slowly. While this stage is typically a temporary one, some people can become locked in this stage.
  2. Anger – Feeling anger is a natural reaction to loss. Naming it and expressing it can be healthy and help people move on. People can be angry with themselves (feeling that they should have taken better care of their loved one) or with others (being mad at the person who is dying or has died for not taking better care of his or her health.)
  3. Bargaining – Bargaining often involves the hope that somehow death can be postponed or delayed. Often the negotiation is made with a higher power in exchange for a reformed lifestyle.
  4. Depression – Depression in a person who is dying or watching a loved one die may not be clinical depression, but rather a very deep and natural sadness. It’s completely normal to feel sadness, regret, fear and uncertainly when going through this stage.
  5. Acceptance – People may say, “It’s going to be OK,” or “I can’t fight it, I may as well prepare for it.” They begin to come to terms with the fact that death is coming or has come.

For family caregivers, grief can happen before and after death. It’s important to address these stages of grief. Seek out a counselor or support group through a community or faith organization. Call your local Area Agency on Aging to learn more about grief support services in your area.

Additional Resources:

Dignity Memorial® is the largest provider of funeral, cremation and cemetery services in North America. Dignity Memorial providers care for more than 300,000 families each year and understand the importance of thoughtful, personalized arrangements through a network of more than 2,000 funeral, cremation and cemetery providers in the United States and Canada. Dignity offers these free resources for grieving family members:

Last revised: February 23, 2018

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