When a patient is in hospice, all-around care becomes essential for families who are struggling to come to terms with a new reality. Granted, the pain and anguish of this difficult time may manifest itself in different ways from one family member to another. But the resources and support that hospices provide may be key to helping family caregivers find a path toward healing amidst their pain. From spiritual care services to counseling sessions, hospice agencies can guide families to an abundance of resources that promote safe environments for them to feel heard and understood, even as they try to make sense of their ever-changing emotions and gripping grief.
1. Spiritual Guidance and Support
In addition to creating a plan for physical and medical care, hospice teams can also direct family caregivers to spiritual resources that are most aligned and in sync with their belief system. According to the Palliative Care Network of Wisconsin, studies that were published by the Journal of Palliative Care and the Journal of Palliative Medicine showed that hospice patients and families want their spiritual needs to be asked about and attended to. 1 By making sure that families who have identified their spiritual needs are in touch with a chaplain or a church community of their choosing, spiritual beliefs and questions can be addressed in real time in the presence of those they trust.
2. One-On-One Private Counseling
The complex layers of end-of-life situations can catch anybody by surprise, therefore it’s important that families have somebody to talk to about their constantly changing, sometimes conflicting range of emotions. As they start to make better sense of their immense heartache, Counseling Today, a magazine published by the American Counseling Association, notes that professional grief counseling can also help families with the following: 2
- Evoke and express their emotions.
- Recognize their unique coping styles.
- Discuss rituals to remember loved one in a meaningful way.
- Adjust to their “new” normal.
Whether a family would prefer to speak to a therapist face to face or participate in a phone counseling session, hospice staff can guide them to professionals with a compassionate nature who can be a source of comfort for these unpredictable times.
3. Grief Support Groups
When a loved one in hospice passes away, it is common for family caregivers to think they are navigating a new world all on their own. They may feel like nobody else understands them or can relate to their level of pain and devastation. Connecting to a grief support group may help them realize they are not alone. While every situation and loss is unique, the Hospice Foundation of America describes five key benefits that families may find in the company of others who attend support groups. Grief support groups may help families with the following: 3
- To feel validated and acknowledged right where they are
- Have a break from the overwhelming feelings that come with grief
- Receive suggestions and solutions to better cope with their loss
- Restore a sense of hope in their lives
- Uncover new understandings, empathy for others and renewed strength
Families and caregivers can breathe a little bit easier knowing that hospice agencies can walk alongside them during what is often an intense emotional journey.
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1 Palliative Care – Network of Wisconsin, “The Role of Chaplaincy in Caring for the Seriously Ill,” 2021.
2 Counseling Today – American Counseling Association, “Grief: Going Beyond Death and Stages,” October 27, 2016.
3 The Hospice Foundation of America, “Support Groups,” 2021.