Loss and Grief
In 1969, Elizabeth Kubler-Ross wrote, On Death and Dying. In this book, she clearly points out that we all experience some form of mourning and that during that mourning most of us go through 5 stages of normal grief:
1. Denial and Isolation
Although these stages are not a recipe for eliminating our grief, they are a guideline that someone in mourning over the loss of a loved one can expect to experience; even if they do not experience the stages in the exact order listed above. For us, knowing that these stages exist is the important part, as this will help us to guide our loved one through whatever stage they are in until they reach a level of acceptance.
Our goal is to help all seniors work their way through the 5 stages of death and dying.
Be aware: there is a resistance to talking about how our senior feels about their loss . . . And, there are some logical reasons for this resistance:
• Their generation was not raised to speak their feelings.
• Cultural habits may influence them to deal with their pain internally.
• Our seniors may not think anyone can understand how they feel.
• The logical choice of someone to confide in may be the person our senior just lost.
With this resistance in mind, it behooves us to be patient with our senior – let them decide when and how they want to talk about their grief. However, it is important to provide opportunities for them to open up to talk. There is a fine line between helping someone open up to talk about the loved one they just lost and not forcing your senior to talk about the situation. This is where the patience part comes in – continue to give opportunities to talk, but don’t force the situation.
It is also important to make sure your seniors do not lose their grip on what is important in their world; those who are left behind and their own health, both mental and physical. Make sure your patience doesn’t allow your loved ones to slip into a depression. And, be certain that positive habits continue, such as eating right, getting out and socializing, and staying in touch with family.
Death and dying is all around us. It is an inevitable part of living and something we must increasingly deal with as we age. With support and patience, our loved ones can experience this mourning period and change what is a terribly sad moment in time into a group of wonderful memories that can live with the survivors for the rest of their lives.
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