"The Journey of Grief" by Penny Zielinski, LCSW Bereavement Counselor for AIM Hospice

"The Journey of Grief Losing a loved one may have us asking many questions. “Why did this happen so suddenly?” “Why did God let this happen?” “What am I going to do without my loved one in my life?”

Our emotions are screaming, our minds are whirling, and we may even think we are going crazy. There is physical, emotional and perhaps spiritual pain as we contemplate the loss. Intense emotions are natural, and we should not be frightened by them. God created us with emotions and therefore, they are a normal expression of the feelings we may experience.

Not everyone will experience grief in the same manner. Some of us are more emotional and some more stoic in our grief. There is no right or wrong way to grieve and each person touched by the loss will grieve in their own way based on their relationship with the loved one. The suddenness or an anticipated death may cause us to react differently. The cause of death can also influence our feelings. Whether the death was an accident, from illness, suicide or murder will have an effect on our feelings.

It is not our place to judge how someone is reacting to a loss. Some may cry and some may be unable to shed a tear, some may jump into the role of caring and supporting others, and some may feel as if they are in a fog unable to carry out daily tasks. 

So how do we respond to those in grief? Our presence and a hug may be sufficient. If you see a need such as buying groceries, attending to children or pets or providing a meal, ask if you might help. Offer a listening ear without advice and allow them to genuinely express their feelings and for them to talk about their loved one. Stay away from pat answers like “It’s God’s will” or “it was for the best”. It is up to the grieving person to find how they want to understand their loss.

Grief will find each one of us eventually. It is the completion of the circle of life. Psychiatrist, Carl Jung said, “There is no coming to life without pain.” Grief is a painful journey, but memories, love and comfort from others will allow us to grow and use our experience to help others in their journey."

Penny Zielinski, LCSW
Bereavement Counselor for AIM Hospice in Rockport


S. said…
Thank you for your thoughts. Having just lost a good friend, I find this quite comforting. It's nice to know you are not alone in your thoughts. ....On another note. What exactly is Hospice Care....I do know it's when folks are near death. How does one know it's time for Hospice care? What are the costs? Thank you again for this article. - S.
@AIM Hospice said…
Great question! Anyone can refer a person to hospice, even the patient themself. However, by definition a person is eligible to receive hospice services if a physician can honestly say that a person is terminally ill and has 6 months or less to live if their illness runs its normal course. This is scary to hear for most. I recently had the pleasure to speak with Dr. Victor Hirsch, MD, a hematologist/oncologist at Hendrik Health System in Abilene. He said from a physician standpoint, introducing the idea of hospice is difficult for most physicians and often feels like the physician is giving up on their patient. They've worked so hard with different treatment options just to acknowledge that either what they are doing isn’t working, or impacts the patient’s quality of life so greatly that you wonder if it’s really worth trying. There comes a time to say, “There’s a lot more we can do to your loved one, but now’s the time we need to ask ourselves what we can do for them”.

This is where hospice and palliative care come in. Our goal is to manage symptoms and improve quality of life so each person can live out their remaining days as best as possible. We have a team of medical doctors, nurses, social workers, spiritual counselors, volunteers, and nurse aides. We will also continue to work with the person’s primary physician if requested. We become that person’s lifeline. Instead of making trips to see the doctor or do more testing, we come to you. We provide medications, equipment, counseling, education, respite care, & a shoulder to lean on when needed. End of life is difficult to face, we do our best to make this time more of a life review & help family & friends remember the good times. If a person doesn't have anyone, we find resources to build the support system they need & are available 24/7.

What are the costs? Most insurance covers hospice services at 100%. The patient and family never receive a bill. AIM Hospice is the not-for-profit hospice that accepts charity care as well. Last year alone we had @ $50,000 of charity hospice care in the Rockport area alone. To make up for these costs, we receive community support through private donations and grants. Thank you!!

I hope that I answered your questions. Please feel free to call AIM Hospice for more information. We also hold free grief support groups that open to the community on Tuesdays at 10:30 & 6pm.

--Rebecca Trahan, RN Administrator AIM Hospice

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