National Hospice Month

National Hospice Month

Each November, our agency recognizes National Hospice Awareness Month to remind our communities of the value of hospice care. Hospice is a special kind of care for the terminally ill. It provides medical care that focuses on symptom management and quality of life. Hospice care is offered in places such as nursing homes, assisted living facilities, and even in the comfort of the patient’s home.

While hospice care at home is not always an option, research by The National Hospice Foundation revealed that 80% of Americans prefer to pass on at home. Of the 2.4 million Americans who pass each year, less than 25% actually pass at home. However, of the 1.3 million patients who receive hospice care, over 75% were able to die at home. Most prefer, if possible, to be in the comfort of their own homes surrounded by their mementos, memories, and family.

Hospice is care that neither prolongs life nor hastens death: the focus of hospice care is to provide quality, compassionate care for those nearing the end of their lives and to support their families during this time.

Hospice care includes a compassionate team of professionals trained to address the patient’s physical, psychosocial, and spiritual needs while supporting family members and other loved ones. Hospice also provides bereavement support for the patient’s family after their loved one has passed away.

Admission into hospice care is a simple process: a doctor must advise that the patient has 6 months or less to live as a cure is no longer an option for the individual. At Pike County Hospice, we advocate for admission into hospice care as soon as one qualifies. This assures that the client will get the most out of the service that we provide. When pain and symptoms are relieved through hospice care, anxiety and stress that accompany a terminal illness are also lessened. In some instances, getting symptoms under control can actually help patients live longer than expected.

Patients have the right to reassess their situation and remove themselves from hospice care. They may decide to seek further treatment for their illness, or in some cases, the hospice team and doctors will discharge patients because their health has improved to the point that survival is expected to be more than 6 months.

Pike County Hospice has served our neighbors and community since 1993, and we are proud to be able to continue this service for years to come. Our team of compassionate, professional individuals takes pride in what they do, and we are honored to be chosen to be with families in one of their most vulnerable times of life.

Finally, we would like to remind you that our bereavement support group is held on the first Monday of each month at 6 pm in our community conference room. It is free and open to the public. We also offer free End-Of-Life planning workshops throughout the year to assist you in getting started in making these important decisions so your family doesn’t have this burden. You can learn more about this seminar by calling us at 573-324-2111 or visiting our website at PikeCountyHospice.com.

Sitting in silence

Sitting in silence

A feature story by Charles A. Corr – Journeys bereavement newsletter, July 2023

 

When confronted by a bereaved person, many people say, “I don’t know what to do” or “I don’t know what to say.” Why is it so complicated to know what to do or say when you truly want to be helpful to a family member, friend, or other individual who has suffered a significant loss? Many ministers of religion, chaplains, parish visitors, hospice staff and volunteers, and ordinary people have been trained or simply have innate social skills to know what to do in such situations.

Recently, I found guidance about how to act in such situations in a very unlikely place, a novel about a former Marine sniper. Stephen Hunter has written several novels about a fictional character named Bob Lee Swagger. Typically, these novels focus on adventure, the understated heroism of the lead character, and the minutiae of the many details that are involved in the use and construction of firearms. Nevertheless, in one of Hunter’s most recent books, Game of Snipers: A Bob Lee Swagger Novel (2019), there is the following passage about Swagger and a mother whose Marine son had been killed in Baghdad.

They sat in silence on the porch for a bit. He didn’t know what he could say, because of course there is nothing that can be said. He knew enough of grief to know that only time eats it down, and
sometimes not even that, and death is the only ultimate release. So, it would be her show, and she seemed to need some time to gather. (p. 9)

One common effort in such situations-although it may not be viewed that way by the speaker-is to say something that minimizes the loss. For example, “Don’t forget, you have another son;’ or “Well, at least he didn’t suffer;’ or “Now he’s at peace:’ These attempts are typically not very helpful because they fail to address the depths of the loss the bereaved person is experiencing. Sometimes, they simply imply that the bereaved person should not be so upset.·

Another well-meaning desire in situations like this is to try to “fix” things. But the fact that a beloved person has died is not fixable. Bereaved persons need in their own time to come to terms with their losses and learn to live in healthy ways in their aftermath.

Hunter knows these things and thus depicted Bob Lee Swagger as respectful of this bereaved mother’s need to find her own path on her personal journey of grief. Still, it would be wrong to think that Bob Lee did nothing: he sat with this woman in silence, offering her his presence, his concern, and his support. Like many effective chaplains and hospice bereavement staffers, Bob Lee made clear that he cared about this woman and her situation, but he let her lead and did not attempt to take over her journey. This is a good example for all would-be helpers, and it is one that bereaved individuals can recommend to those who wish to know what to say or do to help.

 

  • Charles A. Corr, PhD, formerly chaired the International Work Group on Death, Dying, and Bereavement and is recipient of the 2020 Lifetime Achievement Award from the Association for Death Education and Counseling. 

Participants Needed for Important Study on Grief

Participants Needed for Important Study on Grief

Researchers at Christopher Newport University are conducting a survey study on caregivers’ grief and experiences with hospice and are requesting volunteers.

 

Purpose of the Study
The purpose of this study is to examine the relationships between caregivers’ grief and the experiences of the person who is now deceased, family members, and the professional caregivers with hospice. Specifically, this study will investigate emotions, thoughts, physical experiences, and behaviors tied to a significant loss through death, and their associations with background information and experiences with hospice. The data drawn from this study will be quantitatively and qualitatively analyzed and shared with researchers and health professionals interested in the psychological effects of grief and hospice-related services.

Procedures
If you decide that you want to participate in this study, you will be asked to read this consent form and indicate your consent by clicking on the appropriate link. To take part, you must:

  • Be an adult (18 years or older).
  • Have experienced the death of an important person or family member in the last 2 years.
  • Have received hospice services as a family during the end stage of the deceased’s life.
  • Provide complete and usable information in order for your survey to be included in this study.

The online survey will ask questions regarding thoughts, feelings, physical experiences, and behaviors associated with your loss, distress symptoms, basic information about your background and that of the deceased, and experiences with hospice. The online survey consists of 46 items and should take around 15 to 20 minutes to complete.

Take the survey here >>>

Monday mourning quarterbacking

Monday mourning quarterbacking

Monday morning quarterbacking refers to the treasured pastime of critically reviewing a competitive activity, be it an athletic contest or an election, to see how different decisions might have changed the outcome. Usually it is a harmless, even enjoyable activity. But when Monday morning quarterbacking be­comes Monday mourning quarter backing ­that is, when we obsess over the choices we made before a death, it can deeply compli­cate our grief. We can often wonder about a decision that we made. Did we do everything that we could? Did we pursue treatment for too long, causing unnecessary discomfort and pain when the treatment was futile?

All of these choices are difficult. They can be even more complicated when there was no communication about what the dy­ing person wanted, when family members disagree, or when professionals offer little counsel or conflicting advice. We can feel alone as we literally make choices about life or death. Yet, these choices are not just about the patient. They may influence relationships with family after the death. And, these choices affect our grief. ­ There are a few things to remember as we struggle with our choices. The first is that the struggle is, in itself, normal. Grief, after all, involves many emotions. It is natu­ral that we would re-examine our decisions.

However, it is important to remember where we were when we made those decisions in the first place. We made the decisions that we did under difficult cir­cumstances-often under deep emotional strain and personal distress, and perhaps with the pressures of time and incomplete information. Our health and decision ­making capabilities may have been compro­mised by the stresses we experienced, by lack of sleep, and even by our own conflicting feelings. It is important to remember that we made the best decisions we could at that time.

We may wish to talk with others. It may help to review these decisions with our physician, to ask any questions that still trouble us. Sharing our feelings with a counselor may help us explore these thoughts with an empathic listener. Support groups also can be helpful. As we recount our stories, others may not only relate but communicate the ways that they were best able to cope.

Sometimes we may need to do more. Lesley’s husband Arun struggled with cancer for years. He insisted that he would beat it. But after a few years, he succumbed to the disease. There never seemed to be a good time to address his wishes as death approached. In fact, he resisted all such conversations. In the end, Lesley faced choices that Arun had refused to consider. She wondered if she made the right choices and sought counseling.

Seeking counseling, Lesley’s counselor used a therapy technique that involved an empty chair. Imagining her late husband was sitting in the chair, she explained her decisions. She expressed the wish that they had had such conversations when Arun was alive. Lesley expressed how difficult these decisions were and how she felt so alone in making them. As a result of this therapy, Lesley came to feel that her husband had under­stood that she did her best and did everything he would have wanted.

 

Kenneth J. Doka, PhD, MDiv, is Sr. Vice President, Grief Programs, HFA and recipient of the 2019 Lifetime Achievement Award from the Association for Death Education and Counseling. 

April 2023 Issue: Journeys, A newsletter to help in bereavement

10 Things to Help Children After a Tragedy

10 Things to Help Children After a Tragedy
Now with all the recent shootings that have left so many dead and injured, it’s important to remember, Children read our feelings and mirror our emotions. They will soak up our reassurance or fear, love or hate, safety or danger. While these were written for children, they are just as true for adults.
  • Do not try to keep what is going on from your kids. These videos are on TikTok and other social media channels. Even elementary school kids talk about the news. Focus on how people came together and helped out to keep people safe and the bad people have been arrested. Your family style may be to protect the kids from this reality, but many other families are telling their kids and then all kids talk to each other in school.
  • During the unfolding of a tragic event such as shootings and other situations, most of TV is live and you cannot anticipate what your children may see. Turn on the radio instead or show them pre-recorded news broadcast.
  • Talk to your kids about the event that is happening in simple language that they can understand, which is age appropriate (i.e. Some bad people shot at some people in a building etc. Some people are hurt and some have died)
  • Reassure the kids about their safety. Tell them that while this is important, most of the world is safe and that the area you live in is safe. Also, reassure them that the police, security and many other government officials are doing a lot of things to keep them safe.
  • Children need words. Tell them what you are feeling, what you think about the situation. Then, encourage them to talk about what they think. It is important to validate their feelings and clear up any misunderstanding and misinformation they have.
  • Be proactive and find ways to help. Say a prayer, light a candle, give blood, go to your place of worship, you and your kids can donate some money to an organization that is helping with the situation. Make sure some of it comes from your kids, no matter how small the amount is.
  • Reassure your kids a little more, watch them a little more, do obvious gestures that show you are keeping them safe and watching over them. Remember kids may have very illogical fears.
  • Kids grieve very differently from adults. They may not talk about things for weeks or months. Be available to talk about their grief whenever it may come up.
  • Keep as many normal routines going as possible; but, allow a little more time knowing that grief is exhausting for you and your children. Routines are very important. Doing normal things in abnormal times help us feel normal again.
  • Remember for your kids and for yourself, the concept of possible vs. probable. Shootings are possible anywhere, anytime, but they are not probable in our lives today. While events may be tragic, try to put losses in perspective; that many things we do are risky in life, but we do them because fear does not stop death, fear stops life. Most of us will go to the movies, travel, live life and be very safe.

 

 

Keep reading, and get more resources >>>

This article from Grief.com 

Valentine Gala Survey

Valentine Gala Survey

Have you attended our Annual Valentine Gala previously? The Home Care & Hospice Foundation is seeking your feedback to let us know how we can improve, or if you like it just the way it is! This anonymous survey takes less than one minute to complete and your responses are greatly appreciated!