Living with Loss v-1

Living with Loss

The Elizabeth Hospice Bereavement Program

Grief Guide

Myth There are right ways and wrong ways to griev e.

Reality No two people grieve alike,

even when experiencing the same loss. Your grief is based on a variety of factors, including your relationship with the deceased, your personality, other losses, and current stressors. Your reactions will be unique to you.

Support for You The Elizabeth Hospice Bereavement Program

The Elizabeth Hospice is here for you and you family during this time of grieving with condolences, support and services..We encourage you to draw on our expertise and experience for support and education as you continue on your grief journey. A bereavement counselor is available for you and your family. Please feel free to call 760-737-2050 or toll free at 800-797-2050 to arrange to speak with a counselor or visit for more information. Complimentary bereavement programs include individual, couple, family and child counseling. Support group counseling is also available in an open, drop-in format. In addition, occasional groups are available for a particular population, such as those grieving the loss of a parent or those grieving the loss of their spouse. Sometimes a phone call to a counselor will be enough to ease your fears or concerns. Other times, you may need a face-to-face meeting with a counselor or a support group session with others who’ve experienced a similar loss.The Elizabeh Hospice Bereavement Program is a resource for you. Please take advantage of our services and remember that you are not alone. –––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––– For more information or or call 800-797-2050.


The Elizabeth Hospice

What to Expect Along theWay

LivingWith Loss newsletters can serve as a general road map to help you understand the grief journey.Although we can’t predict what curves you’ll face on your personal journey, we can identify elements of the terrain you can expect to encounter along the way. Grief and mourning are natural after a loss. Grief is your internal experience: your thoughts and feelings related to the experience of your loss. Mourning is the outward expression of your grief.Although they’re both intensely personal and unique experiences, grief and mourning aren’t always interrelated. Sometimes, you’ll experience extremely painful grief, but not display noticeable mourning behaviors.You will mourn according to cultural influences and your unique personality. Modern American society has unrealistic expectations about grief and the mourning process. Since there are no universal, consistent and accepted rituals around death, others may respond inappropriately to you or set unrealistic expectations of you.You can’t control other people or their responses to your grief journey. Keep in mind that no one can dictate how you grieve.You need to proceed at your own pace. Grief can express itself through various physical symptoms, including: sleeplessness, appetite changes, chest tightness, clumsiness, dry mouth, poor concentration and decreased energy.The intense emotions and thoughts you experience while grieving take tremendous energy, so fatigue is also common. Even though these symptoms can be a normal part of the process, talk with your physician about them to rule out any medical concerns. Initially, it is common to feel a sense of shock or numbness about the death, making it seem as though you aren’t really absorbing the full implications of the loss.This seems to be a natural protective mechanism that allows human beings to gradually absorb the reality, meaning and consequences of a death. Other common emotions include loneliness, anger, guilt, relief, helplessness, and irritability. In general, the bereaved often describe these manifestations of the grieving process as an unpredictable emotional rollercoaster.The intensity of your grief will vary with how you perceive your loss. Sometimes you’ll feel terrible pain for the loss of your hopes, dreams, unfulfilled expectations and for unmet needs resulting from your loved one’s death.

The Journey of Grief You’ve suffered a tremendous loss: someone close to you has died. Perhaps the whole situation still feels foreign or unreal to you.You may find yourself feeling disoriented, overwhelmed, or like you’re trapped in a nightmare and can’t wake up. Maybe you feel numb, like a robot going through the motions of life.You may feel surprisingly calm at times. It’s not uncommon to move back and forth between these emotional states, feeling like a leaf in the middle of a hurricane. Everyone grieves differently.Although we can’t tell you exactly what your grief journey will be like, we can reassure you that the journey is easier when you have company and comfort along the way. This booklet is intended to give you foundational information about the grief process and is a resource you can refer back to as needed. It will be followed by a series of seven issues of Living with Loss, delivered over the course of 14 months. Living with Loss was created specifically to comfort those who have been impacted by a death. Each issue contains helpful information about living with, and adjusting to, your loss. We’ve included education about grief, as well as proven tips and coping strategies.You’ve embarked on one of the most important journeys you’ll ever make.We’re here for you along the way, providing support, education and comfort as you heal.


The Elizabeth Hospice


The Elizabeth Hospice

What to Expect Along the Way

You may find yourself behaving in ways that are unusual for you, although normal for the grief process. Some people isolate themselves from loved ones; others surround themselves with friends and family, seeking to stay busy to the point of escaping their pain. Some are comforted by wearing or holding the deceased’s belongings, while others avoid tangible reminders at all costs. Give yourself the freedom to determine which behaviors help and support you through this process and which are not comforting to you.There is merit in allowing yourself to experience the pain of grief and alternately focusing on adjusting and adapting to the loss.Allowing yourself to vacillate between the two will help you to go through this process in healthy ways. Finally, be aware that family members may or may not always provide the support you want or need.Within groups of people experiencing the same loss, there are often different expressions of grief. Some will be compatible with your grief experience, others may not. Seek out people who can support you. Consider letting others know what you need.Accept offers of support from friends, your religious community, and coworkers.You may find that your past network of support reconfigures itself after a loss.

You can’t imagine living without this person in your life.These intense feelings are normal and eventually they’ll shift, change and evolve into something more palatable. Also, your recent loss may bring up grief from prior losses, forcing you to cope with confusing feelings. It may take a long time to sort out all these thoughts and emotions. For now, just taking life one moment at a time will help your state of mind tremendously. Grief can temporarily affect decision-making and problem-solving abilities, and cause difficulty in concentration. You may feel like you’re going crazy — a normal and natural response to many simultaneous thoughts and emotions. It’s usually best not to make big decisions or changes when you’re in such a confused and unclear state.When big decisions can’t be avoided, seek the input of an objective person you trust.


The Elizabeth Hospice


The Elizabeth Hospice

• Bring along extra provisions.Taking care of yourself with good nutrition, plenty of rest and other self-care practices will make your journey more bearable.

• Pause at rest stops along the way. If you have a support system of friends, relatives or neighbors, now is the time to seek them out and open yourself up to their support.

• Bring an umbrella. Storms are inevitable.Your personal resources, including your religious or spiritual beliefs, can serve as your umbrella.

Self-Care Tip Learn to breathe deeply and slowly when you feel anxiety, sadness or pain of any kind.Take several long, slow, full breaths. Notice the sound and feel the sensation of each breath. Greater calm and well-being usually return after a few minutes of conscious breathing.

Tips to Prepare for Your Grief Journey

• Pack lightly.Your grief can be a heavy burden.You don’t need to face everything all at once. Put down your excess baggage; it’ll be there to pick up when you’re able and willing to do so.

• Bring along a companion.A supportive listener, a trusted friend, a clergyperson or a counselor can give you perspective about your journey.

• Know that there’ll be some bumps and detours along the way. A grief journey is never completely smooth, even though it may start out that way. Expect some rough terrain. • Find a navigator to guide you. By reading books on grief, consulting with others who’ve been through it, or getting support from you bereavement counselor, you’ll find the road less treacherous.


The Elizabeth Hospice


The Elizabeth Hospice

Family communication can significantly impact family grief.An open-family system acknowledges feelings honestly and involves each family member, including children, in family issues and decisions.A closed-family system denies feelings and excludes individuals from certain family processes. Closed systems typically use fewer coping skills, which can challenge a family to grieve and heal in effective, healthy ways. Gender differences can affect how a family grieves.Although men and women don’t always express themselves in stereotypical ways, gender may still play a part in the grieving process. For example, women typically get relief from talking about their experience, while the stereotypical male will find more solace in doing something to honor the deceased. Understanding gender influences can help male and female family members develop ways to better support each other. New phases of family development result in resurgences or changes in grief. Suppose that a mother of two children dies.As those children grow up and reach life milestones, such as a piano recital or a high school graduation, the entire family will probably mourn their loss anew, from their current perspective. For this reason, it’s important that families support their grief process throughout their lives. Tip for Parents Honesty is the best way to speak with children about death.Talk to your child in language that is appropriate for his age. Children need to feel that the death is an open subject and that they can express their thoughts or ask their questions as they arise.

The Phenomenon of Family Grief

The death of a family member results in a reorganization of the family’s routines and relationships.This long-term process shifts roles and gives people new functions and identities. Grief, and ways of expressing grief, are sometimes handed down from generation to generation. Styles that parents learned in their families are likely to be the rules they model to the next generation.This can be helpful if positive grieving styles are being “passed down.” However, be aware that some styles can be ineffective or unhealthy and it may be time to break the cycle. Each individual’s grief process is influenced by other members in the family unit. People often hide their grief in an effort to protect their family members, particularly when everyone is struggling with a loss.This can be especially true of parents who are trying to shield their children. Mourning can encourage bereaved children to behave in ways that are true to their inner experiences. Because children learn best by what is modeled to them, it helps when parents and caregivers express some of their grief.This normalizes the process and shows children that it’s okay to be vulnerable.


The Elizabeth Hospice


The Elizabeth Hospice

Practical Considerations

Brokerage Firms: Remove the deceased’s name from stocks, portfolios, etc.

Once you have prepared the final arrangements for the deceased and made the immediate decisions that follow the death of a loved one, there are a number of institutions that need to be notified. In most, but not all cases you will need information and documents to either file claims or to reconcile accounts. Remember that everything does not need to be done immediately; pace yourself through this process or ask a friend or family member to help you with some of these details. Some people prepare a comprehensive list of accounts and assets that makes this process easier. Be sure to check for this at the deceased’s home, in their safety deposit box, or in their computer. In the absence of that, you may want to monitor the mail as quarterly or annual statements can alert you to previously unknown accounts. Please note, these are recommendations and not intended to be completely applicable to every situation. Please check with experts, such as financial advisors or lawyers, to determine what is and isn’t pertinent to you. You will want to have at your disposal the following information about the decedent: • Full legal name • Address • Social Security Number • Certified Death Certificate

Retirement Funds: Apply for benefits that may be due to you.

Insurance Automobile: Stop coverage or remove deceased’s name as a policy holder. Health: Stop coverage. If the decedent was receiving state insurance benefits, the state must be notified following the death. Homeowner’s: Make sure there is sufficient coverage and transfer into the name of the survivor. Life: Locate the policy and find out what documents are needed to have a check issued. If you can’t locate the policy, but suspect one is in existence, contact the American Council of Life Insurance, Policy Search, 1000 Pennsylvania Ave, N.W. Washington, DC 20004. Property Deeds andTitles Real Property: Remove deceased’s name from the deed.This can be done at the county seat where the property is located. Automobiles: Change the title to the survivor’s name.This can be done at the Department of MotorVehicles office.Vehicle loan(s) needs to be paid off before a transfer of title can be made. Social Security (800-772-1213; You may not need to do this if you purchased a funeral that includes notification as part of the package. If the decedent was collecting Social Security checks, the Social SecurityAdministration will cease to issue checks upon the death. Benefits may include payment to a surviving spouse and children. Tax Institutions: The decedent’s final state tax return needs to be filed. IRS:The decedent’s final federal tax return needs to be filed. VeteransAffairs (800-827-1000; To process a claim or to gain information call the above toll-free nationwide number.

Consider notifying the following institutions by letter:

Financial Institutions Banks: Remove the deceased’s name from accounts.

Credit Card Companies: Find out if credit card insurance has been purchased. If so, the balance may be paid off. Destroy decedent’s credit cards, close joint accounts and reopen in one name only.The credit bureau can assist you in transferring a spouse’s credit into the surviving spouse’s name and in determining outstanding obligations of the deceased.


The Elizabeth Hospice


The Elizabeth Hospice

“There is sacredness in tears. They are not the mark of weakness, but of power. They speak more eloquently than ten thousand tongues. They are the messengers of overwhelming grief, of deep contrition and of unspeakable love.” — Washington Irving

The Elizabeth Hospice Mission is Simple and Heartfelt. The Elizabeth Hospice strives to provide superior health services in a caring environment and to make a positive, measurable difference in the health of individuals in the communities we serve. We devote our resources to delivering quality, safe, cost effective, socially responsible health care services. .We collaborate with others to deliver the continuum of care that improves the health of our community. For more information or support, visit call 800-797-2050 or email –––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––– The Elizabeth Hospice Bereavement Program appreciates the generosity of our community in supporting programs and services. For information on charitable contributions, please visit or call 760-737-2050 extension 2201.

The Elizabeth Hospice Bereavement Program offers a variety of free programs and services intended to provide the type of support that is most helpful to you. Research shows that for most people, natural resiliencies surface that promote one’s ability to manage their grief reactions. For some it helps to talk, think aloud and share this experience with others. We offer group counseling services — from open, drop-in sessions to sessions focused on particular types of grief, such as parent or spouse loss. We also provide private counseling services for individuals, couples and families.

Additionally, we offer classes to provide practical help, such as learning how to cook, as well as classes in mindfulness, yoga,Tai Chi and more.

For more information about our classes, counseling sessions and general support, please visit or call 800-797-2050.


The Elizabeth Hospice


The Elizabeth Hospice

“We are not all human beings having a spiritual experience, we are spiritual beings having a human experience.”

— Pierre Teilhard de Chardin

For more information or support, visit or call 800-797-2050.

© 2017 The Elizabeth Hospice (9/17)

Page 1 Page 2-3 Page 4-5 Page 6-7 Page 8-9 Page 10-11 Page 12-13 Page 14-15 Page 16

Made with FlippingBook - Online Brochure Maker