Grappling With Guilt - Ohio's Hospice of Dayton

Grappling With Guilt - Ohio's Hospice of Dayton (PDF)

2022 • 24 Pages • 1.14 MB • English
Posted July 01, 2022 • Submitted by Superman

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Grappling With Guilt Page 4 A PUBLICATION FOR OUR FRIENDS FROM PATHWAYS OF HOPESM SPRING 2021 Grief Notes 2021 Spring Greetings This spring, we remember that an entire year has passed since we lived in a pre-COVID-19 world. For those of you who have lost a loved one during this time, please accept our condolences. Many things that we would normally do to help us cope with loss have not been possible — gathering with friends and family, celebrating holidays and special occasions, meeting for coffee or meals in restaurants, and offering caring gestures such as hugs. Connection has been more challenging than ever, right when we need it most. It seems that thriving is too large a goal. We are simply trying to survive. Surviving is incredibly important. The story of how you have survived and what steps you are now taking to carry on teaches us about courage, growth and strength. At Pathways of HopeSM Grief Counseling Centers, we believe that it is possible for us to not only survive this time of change, loss and grief but also to thrive. There are many things to hope for this spring — warm weather, nature’s fresh beginning, and planning time with our families and friends. Beginning to thrive again will mean a healthy caring for yourself in several ways, including tending to your grief journey. In this issue, you will find information on coping with guilt, grief that is not recognized, helping children with loss, and many other topics. Our professional staff remains available to provide counseling, support and grief education. We look forward to meeting you, hearing your survival story, and journeying with you as you thrive this year. Lisa Balster Director of Care, Patient and Family Support Services Pathways of Hope Grief Counseling Centers [email protected] 2 The Bridge: Spring 2021 3 Table of Contents Grief Notes ...........................................................................2 Grappling With Guilt..............................................................4 Pathways of Hope Grief Counseling Centers............................6 Remembering........................................................................8 Sandwiched Between Your Own Grief and the Grief of Your Surviving Parent........................................................11 Book Reviews .....................................................................16 Losing an Adult Child...........................................................18 A Grief That Isn’t Recognized................................................ 19 What Should I Expect From My Child Through the First Year Following a Loss? ............................................20 Pathways of Hope Bereavement Counseling Professionals Team.......................22 Copyright © 2021 Ohio’s Hospice, Inc. All rights reserved. “I thought I could describe a state; make a map of sorrow. Sorrow, however, turns out to be not a state but a process.” — C.S. Lewis, “A Grief Observed” 4 The Bridge: Spring 2021 Grappling With Guilt Guilt can be one of the most painful aspects of grief. Carrying guilt along with grief is like adding cumbersome boulders to the already heavy load that one carries after the loss of a loved one. Grieving minds might play mind games, obsessively running on a treadmill of self-blaming thoughts: • If only I had seen the signs of illness earlier. • If only I had spent more time with her. • If only I had insisted on seeking different treatment. • I should have been able to care for my loved one at home. • I should have been with him when he died. These types of guilt-producing statements are exhausting and disheartening. Even more seriously, failing to deal with guilt properly may lead to a complicated or blocked grieving process. 5 Realizing that there is a difference between guilt and regret may prove helpful to the griever. Nearly all grieving individuals suffer regret or wish things could have been done differently. Regrets are normal and do not imply that someone has done something wrong. They indicate a wish made in hindsight that the person would have made a different choice. Regrets usually lead to sadness and permit the griever to state, “I did my best.” Guilt, by contrast, implies wrong-doing and must be addressed. Try “talking back” to the guilt. This technique can be very helpful. Consistently making reassuring statements to yourself, such as “I did my best,” is uplifting. Changing the wording of “If only” and “I should have” statements to “I wish I had” statements such as, “I wish I had spent more time with my loved one.” This removes the element of blame and moves guilt to the healthier emotion of regret. If you continue to struggle with guilt, it may be helpful to talk to one of the trained bereavement counselors at Pathways of Hope. Learning to let go of guilt can be a freeing process! 6 The Bridge: Spring 2021 Our Pathways of HopeSM Grief Counseling Centers provide a variety of services to the communities we serve. Support and education are provided by a team of counselors and social workers, all with significant experience and expertise in assisting grieving children, adolescents and adults. Our philosophy is that grief is a normal reaction to loss, and that it is a unique experience for each individual, just as each relationship is itself one of a kind. One-on-one counseling sessions for children, teens and adults are available by appointment. A bereavement counselor/social worker assesses each individual’s needs and develops a tailored plan of care to help them navigate the grief process and cope with the life changes that loss brings. Many times, just one session can provide enough information for the affected person to feel that he or she is processing grief normally. Providing quality education on issues of end of life, grief and loss is another primary mission focus of the Pathways of Hope Grief Counseling Centers. Professional staff provide training for congregations, schools and civic groups on a variety of topics, including children’s grief, the normal grief process, comforting the bereaved, professional ethics, advance directives and self-care for the caregiver. Our staff also can tailor a program specifically for your group’s needs. Pathways of Hope services are available to the friends and family of all Ohio’s Hospice patients, as well as to the public, free of charge, thanks to support from the communities we serve. Please contact the location most convenient to you for additional information or to schedule an appointment: Pathways of HopeSM Grief Counseling Centers 7 Community Care Hospice and Ohio’s Hospice of Fayette County 937.382.5400 1669 Rombach Ave. Wilmington, OH 45177 Ohio’s Community Mercy Hospice 937.258.4991 100 W. McCreight Ave., Ste. 400 Springfield, OH 45504 Ohio’s Hospice LifeCare 419.496.0057 1109 Eastern Ave. Ashland, OH 44805 330.674.8448 1263 Glen Dr., Ste. B Millersburg, OH 44654 330.264.4899 1900 Akron Rd. Wooster, OH 44691 Ohio’s Hospice Loving Care 937.644.1928 779 London Ave. Marysville, OH 43040 740.852.7755 56 S. Oak St. London, OH 43140 Ohio’s Hospice of Butler & Warren Counties 513.422.0300 5940 Long Meadow Dr. Franklin, OH 45005 Ohio’s Hospice of Central Ohio 740.788.1400 2269 Cherry Valley Rd. Newark, OH 43055 614.891.6000 1565 Bethel Rd., Ste. 100 Columbus, OH 43220 740.454.0000 1166 Military Rd. Zanesville, OH 43701 740.681.1000 1585 E. Main St. Lancaster, OH 43130 Ohio’s Hospice of Dayton 937.258.4991 324 Wilmington Ave. Dayton, OH 45420 Ohio’s Hospice of Miami County 937.335.5191 3230 N. County Rd. 25A Troy, OH 45373 8 The Bridge: Spring 2021 A love story made the national news recently. The chronicle featured an 82-year-old Wisconsin widower, Bud Caldwell. There is a park bench in Fond du Lac dedicated to his wife, Betty Caldwell. The memorial prominently displays her framed picture. During their 56 years together, Betty and Bud could often be heard singing verses from “Pennies from Heaven” and “A Daisy a Day,” two of their favorite songs. With Betty gone, these songs have been delightfully incorporated into a memorial ritual, one that helps Bud remain connected to his sweetheart, even though it has been necessary to move on without her. Regardless of how much snow blankets the area, Bud makes the daily drive to the park where he ambles to the front of Betty’s bench. Once there, Bud carefully places a daisy and a penny on the bench — a sentimental expression of love and remembrance — and touches Betty’s photograph, pleasantly greeting his beloved wife before taking leave. The Caldwell love story is representative of author Dr. J. William Worden’s fourth task of grieving: To find an enduring connection with the deceased in the midst of embarking on a new life. Maintaining a connection with a deceased loved one is commonly obtained through the use of memorials and rituals. Choosing a memorial, such as the park bench, is one way for people to honor a deceased loved one. For Bud, the bench represents a public display where he can remember and memorialize Betty with other park visitors. A headstone at the cemetery is also a common type of public memorial that can provide insight into the person who is buried Remembering 9 there with the use of a picture, specific quotes or other original design features. The ritual of coming to the bench every day with a daisy and a penny is Bud’s personal ritual, something that has meaning associated very specifically to the relationship between Bud and Betty. If it weren’t for the news story, others may never have realized the significance of a daisy and a penny found on a park bench, but it would nonetheless have significance to Bud. The ritual helps Bud to process his grief and also represents a very personal, unique way to honor his wife. Rituals and memorials, whether used by an individual or by an entire community of people, can be valuable tools in response to grief. They can transform grief into healing action by celebrating the life of the person who has died. The possibilities for creative ideas in regard to rituals and memorials are practically endless. Rituals and memorials allow for individualization determined by factors having to do directly with the person being remembered or with the person who is remembering and honoring a loved one. Ideas for remembering a deceased love one might include: • Creating a memorial fund for donation to a project or cause that was supported by the deceased • Creating a scrapbook or memory book • Identifying the seat at the dining table, which was usually used by the deceased, as a seat of honor and either leaving it empty or inviting guests to be seated at the “special place” at the table Continued on the next page... 10 The Bridge: Spring 2021 • Making a quilt — or a memory teddy bear — out of the person’s clothing • Wearing an article of clothing or jewelry that belonged to the deceased • Continuing to celebrate the birthday of the deceased by gathering family/friends for a favorite meal The number of ways to honor and remember can be as varied and unique as the people being remembered. The majority of familiar grief rituals originated as family, religious or cultural traditions. These social traditions allow extended family, friends or even an entire community to mourn the death along with the primary grievers. The rituals can be connected to very specific activities such as how the body is cared for after death; cremation versus embalming versus burial without embalming; procedures followed at the funeral/memorial service, including the demonstration — or lack thereof — of emotion; the way specific family members are required to dress after the death of certain relatives; and the list goes on. Many people experience rituals common to their religion or culture but may not be exposed to other memorial practices and rituals unless afforded an opportunity to attend services for people from a different culture or faith. When that happens, the unfamiliar practices may be considered awkward to someone not accustomed to them. Yet they can provide insight into the values other cultures and religions embrace in the context of death. Regardless of the manner in which a life is celebrated or memorialized, memorials and rituals provide a valuable and functional component for the healing journey. Perhaps one of the most noteworthy purposes of memorials and rituals is to help prepare the griever to ultimately move forward and create a new reality — a new “normal.” By identifying a meaningful way to honor someone through memorials and rituals, mourners will find a way to incorporate the memories of their loved ones into their newly created realities, which will encourage the moving forward in peace. 11 It is a powerful reality to lose a parent. Many factors affect your grief process. Had your parent been slowly declining? Was it an unexpected death? Had there been a role reversal of you becoming the parent and your parent becoming the child? What was your relationship like with that parent? Was there unfinished business or an unresolved issue? Have you handled loss issues in the past? What other losses or stressful situations do you have going on in your life? Do you have an effective support system? While you are dealing with your own grief experience, there may be another gnawing force occurring simultaneously. Your surviving parent also is experiencing his or her own grief reaction. As each relationship is different and each person is unique, your surviving parent’s grief experience will be different from your own. Losing a spouse is not the same as losing a parent. It is not realistic to assume that you know exactly how your surviving parent feels. If your parents were married for a very Sandwiched Between Your Own Grief and the Grief of Your Surviving Parent Continued on the next page... 12 The Bridge: Spring 2021 long time, the sense of oneness that can grow between longtime spouses may further complicate the grieving process. Your surviving parent may feel like he or she has lost a limb yet continues to feel phantom pain. There may be no memory of life without the other partner. You have been delegated a dual role of dealing with your own grief while helping your surviving parent with his or her own grief. Each of you needs to work through the tasks of mourning, but many factors may impact this experience. These tasks do not occur in a neat and orderly sequence, and it is common to move back and forth between these stages. The first task of mourning is to accept the reality of the loss. Some denial may be protective in enabling an individual to gradually deal with a loss. However, forgetfulness or dementia, which can be common with an aging parent, may make the situation more difficult. At a time when you are under stress and on edge, it can be particularly trying if a surviving parent continually forgets about the death of a spouse and questions you about the absence. It may also be disheartening if a surviving parent decides to dispose of all possessions of the deceased spouse. Sometimes surviving spouses attempt to protect themselves from dealing with the reality of the loss by ridding themselves of any reminders. 13 Continued on the next page... The second task of mourning is to process the pain of grief. There can be a myriad of emotions. People may experience anger, guilt, sadness, panic, longing and relief. Grief is sometimes delayed. After a death, survivors may be occupied with necessary business issues. Your surviving parent may appear to be fine initially, and weeks or months later, a strong grief reaction may surface. There are often unexpected triggers of grief. One may hear a special song or run across a memorable photograph. A surviving parent may not outwardly experience grief because grieving has been occurring over a long period of time. If a surviving spouse was a longtime caregiver, there may have been some disassociation in feeling that the deceased was not actually a spouse but a patient. Some symptoms of grief can be magnified in an aging parent. Forgetfulness, inability to concentrate and focus, disorganization, and lack of interest or motivation can all be symptoms of grieving. But they also can go hand in hand with a normal aging process. The third task of mourning is to adjust to a world without the deceased. Many longtime spouses have embraced specific roles, sometimes traditionally gender specific. An aging man may have relied on his wife to cook and take care of their home. An aging woman may have relied on her husband to make monetary decisions or to drive. One spouse may have assumed the role of measuring needed medication. It can be difficult, frightening and painful to assume new roles at a time when one has less energy and self-confidence due to the grieving process. Some surviving spouses have never been on their own. Their only memories of eating dinner or taking a walk may be as a couple. They have defined their identities as a husband or a wife. Thinking of oneself as a single person after many years of marriage can seem insurmountable. Spouses may have talked about taking care of themselves and never wanting to rely on their children. On the other hand, they may have discussed a belief that their children should take care of them. The fourth task of mourning is to find an enduring connection with the deceased in the midst of embarking on a new life. An aging parent may be more isolated and may not have a support system of peers due to factors such as illness, death or lack of mobility. An aging surviving spouse may be thinking about end-of-life issues, too, and may have a hard time contemplating creating a new life with new relationships and interests. It is not uncommon to express 14 The Bridge: Spring 2021 a desire to join the deceased spouse. This is usually a passing thought. If a parent talks about hurting himself or herself or has had periods of depression, it is advisable to direct that parent to professional counseling. Considering these factors, here are suggestions on how to help a surviving parent as well as yourself: 1. Give the gift of patience and understanding. Listen to your parent and encourage conversation about your deceased parent. It is healthy to share feelings and memories. It is helpful to keep in mind that grievers are more likely to be short-tempered and may be less able to handle minor issues calmly. 2. Encourage your surviving parent to take care of himself or herself. Take care of yourself as well. Encourage rest, exercise and eating healthy meals. If cooking is a problem, investigate home-delivered meals. 3. Stay in frequent contact with your surviving parent. If you have other willing siblings or family members, you may want to consider a phone or visit chain to ensure frequency of calls or visits. 4. Encourage compliance with medical appointments. Ensure that physicians are aware of your parent’s and your own bereavement. Grief is stressful. The immune system can be impaired. Alert staff at your parent’s living facility about any concerns. 5. Remember and acknowledge important dates and anniversaries. Birthdays, holidays and anniversaries often can cause grief relapses. Think about having dinner with your parent on an anniversary, but be respectful if your parent declines. 6. Offer to help your parent sort through the deceased parent’s possessions. 7. Validate your surviving parent’s continued purpose in the family. Encourage activities such as volunteer work, which can enhance a sense of purpose. 8. Assess your parent’s living situation to ensure safety and facilitate necessary modifications. 15 9. Investigate a support group for people who have lost a spouse. If you are inclined, investigate a support group for yourself for people who have lost a parent. 10. If a religious community has been an important part of your parent’s life, encourage continued participation. Investigate transportation options if driving is a concern. Sometimes church members are willing to help transport other members. 11. Direct your parent and yourself to professional counseling if symptoms do not improve. The grief journey is a long one, but, with proper care and work, individuals can effectively transition through grief.