04 December 2019
Grief is something that we will all experience in our lives, whether we are grieving for a person we loved or a pet who was part of our family. Grief is hugely powerful in its ability to change everything about our life and how we feel, act and think, either in the short or long term.
Depictions of grief through books, television and other mediums show its many diverse faces, with one of the more extreme examples coming in the last BBC Poldark series where one of the characters, George Warleggan, was shown to be gripped by grief in the aftermath of his wife’s death, plunging him into what, in the 18th century, was considered to be ‘insanity’ but what we would now call severe mental ill-health
There is no right or wrong way to experience grief; for some people it can trigger mental health problems while for others it may be their physical health that is affected, or indeed any aspect of life such as sleep patterns or ability to work. Some people may feel that they are able to come to terms with their grief quicker than others, and some people may feel that they never truly manage to come to terms with it.
Comparisons are therefore unhelpful when it comes to the individuality of the grieving process, but one thing that is universal is the need for every person who is grieving to be able to express their thoughts, feelings and emotions without judgement from others.
Preparing for grief
While some bereavements are sudden, others are expected if a person has a life-limiting condition as many people we support do. The former England cricket captain Andrew Strauss has talked about the experiences he and his family went through when his wife was diagnosed with a rare terminal lung cancer, noting that having grief counselling helped him, his wife and their sons to ‘prepare’ as best they could for what was to come:
“We know the Victorian way of dealing with death, which was not dealing with it. You’ll never get over it but having the support of a counsellor who has been there hundreds of times is so important, to help you develop strategies to cope.”
For anyone whose loved one has a terminal illness, it can also help the grieving process to know that your relative had a dignified death that respected their wishes, making good palliative and end-of-life care an important part of helping families to cope with the aftermath of a loved one’s passing.
Breaking grief down into stages
One of the ways some people view grief is to look at it through the ‘The five stages of grief’ model that Elisabeth Kübler-Ross outlined in her 1969 book ‘On Death and Dying’. Whilst it’s noted that people who are grieving don’t necessarily go through the stages in the same order or experience all of them, they are as follows:
Denial: Refusal to accept facts, information or reality. This is often a defence mechanism.
Anger: This may be linked to wanting to blame someone or something for the grief being felt.
Bargaining: A state of ‘if only’ when the grieving person wants to try and change the course of events or turns to their religion for help.
Depression: The beginning of accepting the reality that the person finds themselves in, often accompanied with sadness, regret, fear or uncertainty.
Acceptance: Emotional detachment and objectivity.
Grief for a person who is dying
Grief can also affect a person when they are dying. Some of the ways our live-in carers would support a person at this time in their life include providing any factual information that they need, validating the person’s emotions, reassuring and comforting the person and supporting them to access pastoral care (if appropriate). At all times our live-in carers would be aiming to maintain a calm environment, ensuring that the person’s dignity is preserved and that they are comfortable.
To find out more about Promedica24’s palliative and end-of-life care, please visit https://www.promedica24.co.uk/types-of-care/condition-led-care/end-of-life-care/, get in touch with our team on 0800 086 8686 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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