Grief doesn’t follow the rules at all. We know that most physical injuries generally take a certain amount of time to heal, everything from a bruised knee to a broken arm, but grief can linger for months, even years. The team at Above and Beyond Home Health Care is very familiar with grief, including how everyone deals with it differently, and we’re always happy to share what we know.
Because grief can have physical, mental and emotional components, and can express itself in different ways and different times, it’s often difficult to define and not always easy to pinpoint a reason for it in everyone. The death of a loved one is a pretty obvious one, but sometimes, other significant changes or losses in someone’s life can trigger grief, everything from quitting a job to making major moves in your life. These moves can be literal, like having to relocate your residence to another state and leave your old life behind, or figurative, like transitioning to another chapter of your life, such as when you shift from college to the working world, or from the workforce to retirement.
Basically, grief is basically how your body reacts to a loss. It can hurt, physically, mentally and emotionally, but sometimes can also be the catalyst for positive changes in your life.In some cases, grief can combine with other feelings, such as fear and anxiety, and cause further physical and mental conditions including depression. This is not uncommon in home health care environments, where patients and their caregivers can sometimes feel overwhelmed by recent changes in their lives, along with the actual pain from a health condition.
In some cases, grief can combine with other feelings, such as fear and anxiety, and cause further physical and mental conditions including depression. This is not uncommon in home health care environments, where patients and their caregivers can sometimes feel overwhelmed by recent changes in their lives, along with the actual pain from a health condition.In hospice situations, these feelings may be even more acute, as patients and those around them not only are learning to deal with the stresses of someone’s changed physical state, but with their pending death. This can even cause a sort of grief in advance.
In hospice situations, these feelings may be even more acute, as patients and those around them not only are learning to deal with the stresses of someone’s changed physical state, but with their pending death. This can even cause a sort of grief in advance.
How grief can be good
The responses to grief can be different for everyone. Initially, grief can cause varying amounts of pain in different parts of the body, along with feelings of confusion, anxiety, and frustration that can last months or longer.
Unmanaged longer-term grief can also cause further physical problems and mental trauma.
However, in spite of the sometimes negative circumstances that can trigger grief, properly managed grief can actually be soothing. If you’re able to release the stress, tension and pain, and all you’ll have remaining is the memories.
The physical act of crying, for instance, can help flush toxins from the body and produce endorphins, which are natural pain-relieving hormones – crying literally makes you feel better physically and emotionally. (This statement does have an asterisk, however: some studies say that regular periods of crying may not always help everyone, especially those who already may be profoundly depressed.)
People suffering from grief are also encouraged to seek medical help, even talking with a mental health provider to remove lingering stress, anxiety or even guilt. A local support group or bereavement organization can also offer similar assistance and ability to find people to talk with.
The American Psychological Association says that being able to move on and get through grief can eventually open doors for a better outlook on life. You don’t need to forget or ignore the special things or people from the past but can include them in your traditions, such as an annual toast to loved ones who are no longer around. Even more useful to your own grief process is being able to help others with theirs. Though everyone will handle different, they will more than likely appreciate your perspective.
Sharing grief at home
Part of the training for home health care professionals often includes learning how to deal with grief and how to help patients. Much more is also learned on the job.
Because talking and sharing are such an important aspect of the bereavement process, nurses and caregivers are always available to listen to stories as patients reflect on their lives. In a hospice situation, these conversations can be particularly meaningful.
Even if an aide or therapist visits a patient for a specific purpose, such as massage therapy or speech therapy, they are encouraged to take the time to listen if the patient wants to talk. For some house-bound seniors, they may not get many visitors so they especially enjoy the visits from home health care personnel.
Home health care personnel who regularly visit are also in a good position to see if there are improvements or setbacks in how someone is dealing with grief. They can let them know about local resources, or even let their primary care provider or a mental health provider know that they may be at risk for depression.
In some cases, a patient may not ready to talk, or may prefer to talk with a family member or mental health provider. That’s OK too – home health providers are professional and will continue to offer skilled services, everything from nursing services to homemaker services like meal preparation or light housekeeping.
Visit Above and Beyond Home Health Care for more information on home health care resources or the value of the grieving process.