National Hospice and Palliative Care Month really can be a time to celebrate. Not to celebrate the pain caused by disease and what it takes from us, but to celebrate the brilliant people who help us to be more human through it all.
Happy National Hospice and Palliative Care Month! While it may sound strange to say, this month really can be a time to celebrate. Not to celebrate the pain caused by disease and what it takes from us, but to celebrate the brilliant people who help us to be more human through it all.
I want to take a moment to celebrate two types of support: tangible and intangible. In my experience as a child who has supported a dying parent through the hospice process, both types of support have been necessary at different times-and I often found them in different places. I needed tangible support like assistance with completing Medicaid applications, legal paperwork, funeral plans, hugs, Kleenex, the maze of nursing home hallways and so much more. I found this type of support in the wonderful staff that supported my family during my parent’s illness and death. I also needed so much intangible social and emotional support. I needed conversation and awkward silences and the reassurance that I am not alone in my grief. I found this in a special way in the grief and loss peer support group I joined shortly after my loss. I found a community of people who are not only my friends, but my chosen family. I found people who have walked through the fire and made it through to the other side….stronger and more human because of it. I found hope and healing. I found myself again.
This month, I want to encourage those of you who have a loved one struggling with a chronic or terminal illness and/or those of you who have lost someone close to you (no matter how long ago!). You are not alone in your grief. There is support. There is kindness and understanding and healing to be received. You will not be the same as you were before this experience but you will grow because of it. Seeking support does not make you weak…it helps to reveal your own strength. Don’t hesitate to find a safe place your experience can be shared and valued.
There are many different types of support groups related to loss and the grieving process. These groups can provide a safe place to share stories, hear from those with similar experiences, build new supportive relationships, and grow through the challenge of losing a loved one. Groups are available in many different types of community settings. Remember, you don’t have to do this alone. To find grief and loss support groups and resources near you, search here.