In the United States, over 1.7 million people entered hospice care in 2020. For many, the thought of end-of-life care is enough to spook them from thinking about it any longer than a few seconds. However, the reality of our life span and mortality can be welcomed without anxiety – it just takes some compassionate care and thoughtful planning.
When we know that someone we love is entering their final phase in life, it can feel overwhelming rather quickly. “What is the best option?” “Who do I call to get services?” “What is the kindest choice for my loved one?” These questions are all important ones to answer, and understanding how hospice care assists with the heavier aspects of death is a great place to start.
Anticipatory Grief Benefits From Preparedness
Defined as “a state of deep, painful sorrow that occurs before an impending loss,” anticipatory grief is an experience that everyone will likely experience during the end of life for loved ones. Even health crises such as losing a part of the body or mental health struggles such as divorce are linked to this type of grief. When caring for your loved one who is preparing to transition to complete their life, preparing a mental and physical health plan will dramatically ease the pressure of anticipatory grief.
Seeking out a qualified therapist, self-help books, and regularly scheduled family and friend time will benefit those who will experience a loss after a death, as well as the person receiving hospice care. Everyone deserves to be treated with kindness and support, at every stage of their life.
Make Their Legacy Come to Life
One of the most common sources of stress, even when we’re healthy and young, is a lack of purpose or direction. We often question where we are in our lives and if we’re truly happy with what we’re spending our time with. While loss can trigger a journey toward finding a fulfilling purpose, those who are facing the end of their life can still have many questions about the meaning of their years and experiences. Hospice care is a space to create those moments of recognizing their legacy, as everyone is focused on the reality of the situation.
An activity that is equally enriching for both the person going into hospice, and those who are close to them, is writing or illustrating a legacy that they have created in their life. Drawing out the family tree can make their impact on the world much more visible, along with all of the people who have that person to thank for creating a family lineage. Their friends can be added to the family tree as those who were “chosen family,” and have an equally important ones is a wonderful memento to keep for many years. relationship to the person. Writing stories or recording videos of people speaking about their loved one is a wonderful memento to keep for many years.
Generate a Strong Support Network
Palliative and hospice care are powerful allies in the end-of-life process, including the support networks that will make an incredible difference in everyone’s experience. Like the family tree activity, calling on those who are all a part of the person’s life to come together is one of the most impactful coping mechanisms anyone can have. As humans, we are intrinsically designed to seek out comfort and understanding with others. Because each person is going through the same impending loss, the shared event will be much less stressful when they are not alone throughout the grieving process.
For the person receiving hospice care, reminding them that they are surrounded by their loved ones and friends can offer comfort and peace. By offering that valuable time socially and spiritually, their worries and concerns can be put more at ease with a strong support network.
Identify Stressors and Unknowns to Alleviate Trauma
While creating their legacy and calling on support are beneficial options, there may still be lingering questions or general worries for the person in care. Even those who are going through the realization of their loved one’s end-of-life will have their concerns. Address the stressors with mental health exercises from a qualified therapist, meditation, “feel good” activities that are accessible, and open communication to release the worries from within.
Trauma has a long-acting influence on a person, and long-held anxiety or depression is a detrimental weight when enduring a life-changing event. Seeking out medically sound therapies, community support, and discussions will lighten the mental weight for everyone, and create space for more hope and gratitude.
Celebrate All That Life Has to Offer
As you move through the anxiety and lighten the mental load on everyone, place importance on celebrations. Find any reason to celebrate the person’s life and their joys. Depending on their ability, throw a small party with their favorite treats, colors, and music. Watch videos or look at photos of their most treasured experiences in life, and if they are speaking, give them the spotlight to relive those beautiful moments. Welcome friends and loved ones in to share their favorite memories with the person, or have a competition quiz to see who knows them best.
While it may feel easy to find the negative and stressful aspects of end-of-life care, it is just as easy to dive into all that makes life – and those who get to live – wildly fun and beautiful.
Seek Out Others Who Understand and Can Relate
After setting the stage for aftercare, gathering loved ones, addressing stress, and finding time to have fun together, every person in the community has a unique place during the grieving process. Depending on your thoughts and feelings, finding a neutral environment to meet with others can be an alternative method of relief. The magnificent thing is at least one other person is experiencing what you are experiencing at any point in time (the number is much larger than one). Support groups linked to hospice care centers, or those found online or through your primary care provider and therapist, exist to bring people together to speak on their unique concerns and life struggles during grief.
You can show up authentically, without the masks and filters you put on for family and friends, to truly embrace where you are mentally and spiritually. As with you, your loved one receiving hospice care will also benefit from group sessions to know that they, too, are not alone.
One of the scariest thoughts that humans must face each day is the reality of the impermanence of life. When a loved one enters end-of-life care, it reminds us of this truth and we react in our way every time it is presented to us. The more we know about the process of grief, what it truly means to live, and how we can imprint our gratitude on those who are important to us, the less daunting it can feel. Hospice care consists of loving and attentive people who understand these truths and are more than happy to offer their support and a helping hand at any point throughout your or your loved one’s process.
Vivek is an Outreach specialist for Blogs. He is also a writing enthusiast fond of healthy and happy living. He believes Knowledge gets better when shared. So he founded The Mindful Bytes as a platform for people who love to read and write anything that has to do with Health, Tech, Business, Finance, and Lifestyle.