The Honest Truth About Grief

The Honest Truth About Grief

Here are three honest truths about grief that everyone should know.

  1. Grief is forever. This is hard to hear, but vital to understand. The sooner you accept this, the sooner you will be able to adapt to and deal with your grief.
  2. It’s ok to not be ok. Grief is harsh, constant and overwhelming – especially at first. Let yourself feel those emotions and don’t be ashamed of it. Recognizing your grief allows you to be one step closer to conquering your journey with grief.
  3. Everyone grieves differently, so don’t be so hard on yourself. There is no one way to go about the grieving process. There are a lot of articles out there offering suggestions and remedies to help your grieving process, but it is important to find what works best for you. Simply because someone found relief in one method doesn’t mean you’ll experience the same result. Know that’s it’s ok to find comfort in things other may not understand.

Although the points discussed above were very raw and honest, here’s the good news: Although grief is tough and may not ever truly go away, it does change over time. Grief becomes a part of you, it mellows and, most importantly, it makes you stronger. Right now, you may think that what you’re feeling will never subside, but you will become genuinely happy again at some point. Life will go on.

Surviving Valentine’s Day with a Broken Heart

Alright. Breathe. Don’t panic. Valentine’s Day is just around the corner, and I know some of you are dreading this day. While this holiday can be tough enough for some of us, those who are grieving this Valentine’s Day may have it worse.

While your intentions may be to spend the day alone and sad, I challenge you to push through and celebrate this day. Okay, hear me out. I understand that grief and Valentine’s Day don’t mix well but try these options for making it through yet another holiday without your loved one.

  1. Light a candle in honor of your loved one. It’s okay to think about them on this day and remember the love you had for each other. Allow yourself to be present in your loved one’s memory and feel all those emotions.
  2. Bring a card or flowers to someone else who is feeling down this Valentine’s Day. Redirecting your grief and trying to connect with those who are also grieving on Valentine’s Day can help you put a positive spin on the holiday.
  3. Invite a group of people over for a casual get together. Trust me, you aren’t the only one who doesn’t want to be alone this Valentine’s Day. Connect with others who are feeling the same way as you or those who may not have someone to be with this holiday.
  4. Have some quiet time. While surrounding yourself with loved ones on this day will be a huge help, it’s also important to take some time to yourself.
  5. Believe that next year will be a little easier. I promise, things will get better and it won’t always be this hard.

Valentine’s Day will never be the same without your loved one, and that’s okay. Planning ahead and incorporating some of these tips throughout the day can help relieve the stress and create a new meaning for this holiday. Just remember – Love never dies.

Celebrating the Holidays when a Loved One is in Hospice

This time of year can be challenging for those who have a terminally ill loved one. If this friend or family member is in hospice, the holiday season may feel “off” or a little less joyous this year.

While there are certainly challenges you will have to face, there are still ways you and your family can celebrate the season with your loved one in hospice. We’re here to provide you with some encouragement to navigate this time of year.

Coordinate with hospice staff.

Those working in hospice are not just there for the patients during this time, they are also there for the families. Hospice staff serve as a crucial resource for trying times like these and are more than willing to assist. They can help coordinate visiting schedules to work around holiday events, offer suggestions for support groups, and make arrangements for any holiday traditions you’d like to celebrate with your loved one. Among many other tasks, hospice staff are there to aid you this holiday season.

Adjust your holiday traditions.

While it may seem difficult to change any holiday traditions you have to better suit your loved one in hospice, just know that it will be wroth it. Including your loved ones in these traditions is what the season is all about, so making certain they are a part of some of the traditions you enjoy the most will bring everyone closer together and create a special meaning this year.

Above all, enjoy time with your loved ones.

We know this may sound hard – maybe even impossible. It’s important to use this time to bring everyone together and create memories while you can. Surrounding yourself with friends and family can serve as a reminder that you are not alone in this process.

We’ll leave you with this question – What’s your reason for this season? Is it to cherish another holiday with your loved one?

Hospice Patient Hosts “Thank You” Party

 

We would like to extend a huge thank you to one of our patients for putting on a wonderful Post Thanksgiving/Thank You/Christmas party for our Hospice Team & volunteers who have helped him in the past months.

Previously, volunteers helped coordinate a motorcycle and airplane ride for this patient. Our volunteers are so amazing & dedicated to our patients.

Nora & Music Therapist Karen volunteered to play at his party & the place mats pictured are from our partner Primrose of Merriam Park (preschool) who donated them to remind everyone to ‘Be Thankful.’

Our team was truly touched by Mark’s generosity and kind heart, wanting to thank us! It’s patients like these that help make all of our hard work worth it.

5 Tips | Grief & The Holidays

The holiday season is here, which means family get-togethers, gift-giving, and happy times. For some this is the case, but for others, this can be a time filled with grief and sadness. Holidays are for spending time with those we love the most, so how can someone be expected to handle this time when a loved one has died? 

If you are missing a loved one this holiday season, here are some tips to help you take a step back from the grief and survive the holidays. 

 

Tip One: Be prepared for grief triggers.

Let’s be honest, triggers are particularly evident during the holidays. Preparing for these triggers and having a plan to cope with them can make the triggers more manageable if you encounter them.

Tip Two: It’s okay to take a break from togetherness. 

Plan to get some space from the holiday chaos if you need it. Being surrounded by family and friends is great, but everything all at once can be emotionally overwhelming and hard to overcome. Don’t feel guilty about your grief. It is important to be conscious of your limits and take some time to collect yourself.

Tip Three: Seek gratitude. 

The holidays are a time to gather together, eat good food, and share what we’re thankful for. If you’ve recently lost a loved one, grief can make it difficult to feel thankful. Although you may be focusing on the loss, try and remember the good things that relationship brought into your life. Search for that gratitude. 

Tip Four: Decide which traditions you want to change or keep.

Acknowledge that things will be different this year. Some holiday traditions will remind you of your lost loved one, but it is okay to limit which of these you allow yourself to practice or not. Take time to determine which traditions will make you happy and which will overwhelm you. 

Tip Five: Say yes to help. 

Although you may typically play host during the holidays, this year may be too much to take on alone after losing your loved one. Accept help when it’s offered. Remember there is no shame in saying yes. Those who love you want to help. 

 

The holidays can be hard for those who have recently lost a loved one. Grief can be especially unavoidable during these times, but it is important to remember that you can still feel joy through the grief. Taking these tips into account can help you prepare for that grief and make your holidays more enjoyable despite your recent loss.

Dear Mom

I see you, but it isn’t you.  The same eyes, the same smile, the same face.

But you’re leaving me, one breath at a time, going to a peaceful place in your mind

where there’s no place for me.

The arms that used to hold me are quiet at your sides.  The legs that used

to take me for long walks are still.  Gone are the memories of my childhood.  You

recognize me, but you no longer KNOW me.

Week by week you turn further inward, and I can’t reach you there to bring

you back.  I can only keep watch, and laugh with you on a good day, and retreat to my

room and cry when confusion clouds your every thought.

I will love you, and care for you, and keep you safe until you leave, and

the memories I’ll have on this journey will give me peace until we’re together again

Your Loving Daughter

Volunteering with Hospice

Volunteers are an essential part of a hospice team, participating in roles from directly interacting with patients to helping with fundraising efforts. Hospice volunteers often describe their work as purposeful, validating, and meaningful. Hospice volunteers are at the heart of every hospice operation and are valued greatly.

How Hospice Volunteers Serve

Supporting Patients

This is a huge part of what hospice volunteers do. These tasks can include: visiting with patients, reading, taking walks, helping communicate for patients, bringing in therapeutic items, or supervising therapeutic visits. This list is not all-encompassing, and volunteers can do so much more for the patients they work with.

Comforting Family Members

Volunteers can do anything from listening to family members, sitting with them, or helping them with simple tasks like running errands or taking care of family pets. They are also able to help family members have some time alone by sitting with patients while family members take a nap or walk.

Fundraising and Administrative Work

Volunteers can also help hospice organizations by using their skills in the office with administrative duties. Fundraising efforts can include helping with mailings, contacting donors, facilitating events or writing thank-you letters.

Special Skills and Interests

In addition to everything listed above, each volunteer has their own set of skills or interests that could be of use to the hospice they are volunteering for. This could include skills such as: landscaping, musicians, barbers, notaries, sewing, etc. If you feel that your local hospice could benefit from a skill you enjoy, reach out!

 

If you or someone you know is interested in volunteering with Hospice of the Midwest, please reach out by contacting one of our offices near you today.

My Experience as a Hospice Volunteer | Expectations Blown Away

  

When becoming a hospice volunteer, my expectations were that I would be reading, holding hands and sitting quietly with patients.   I had no idea that I would build new friendships that would lead to events like taking patients on plane and motorcycle rides.

While talking with Mark, we had a number of similar life experiences such as: Alaska (he had lived there, I have visited), motorcycle riding, and flying.

I thought to myself, “How fun would it be for him to be able to do some of these things while there is still time?” After that, I connected with some of my friends and have been overwhelmed by their generosity and willingness to schedule these events so quickly. They have provided the red-carpet treatment in all cases.

What makes these events so fun for these additional volunteers is Mark’s grateful heart. His trademark phrase was, “I’m so happy.”

What a kind soul that I have been blessed to know.

-Doug K., Hospice of the Midwest Volunteer

Volunteers are right at the heart of what we do here at Hospice of the Midwest. Thanks to amazing volunteers like Doug, our patients the receive unique, personal care they deserve. If you or someone you know is interested in becoming a volunteer with Hospice of the Midwest, contact us at info@hospiceofthemidwest.com.

Volunteer Laughter Clinic

In Hospice, we deal with life and death… Whether we are clinicians or volunteers, it is vitally important to remember that when we put a smile on the face of our patients or their families, we bring something more than a service or our presence, and we bring HOPE! Not for a cure to the disease, but reprieve from worry, and a bit of joy when depression or anxiety is present. Our ‘Laughter Clinic’ was a success for Volunteers at Hospice of the Midwest~ MN! Volunteers were trained in different modes of laughter and how to use it with Hospice patients. Each shared funny stories they’ve experienced with patients or their own dying family members.\

– Nichole, Volunteer & Bereavement Coordinator

Pictured, are some of our staff and volunteers that participated in the clinic.

My Experience as a Veteran Volunteer – A Personal Testimony

I first met Pat in May of 2019. I visited Pat over 9 times this summer, my last visit just two days before he passed away on August 23, 2019.

When we were first introduced, we shook hands, and I remarked how his full name sounded so distinguished; he chuckled, looked at me and said “just call me Pat.”  From that day forward, he was “just Pat.”

Most all of our visits involved discussions about his boyhood on the farm, enlisting in the U.S. Air Force during the Korean War, and starting his own family and farming after the war. 

Pat liked to talk about growing up on the farm with his brothers and sisters, and the times they would go swimming in the Skunk River on hot days. Pat told this story,

“Sometimes when the water was high, you had to be really careful because you might step in a hole and go under or get your foot caught in a submerged tree branch. We all looked out for each other, but one day when my brothers and I were ‘dunking’ each other, I held my brother down under the water so he couldn’t come back up; boy was he squirming and kicking around. But you know, I wouldn’t let anybody drown, I was just fooling around with him, so I pulled him back up, and boy was he mad. He told my Dad what I had done.”

When I visited Pat, I always wore my Veterans of Foreign Wars uniform shirt and service cap. It was on my third visit to Pat, I had just come through the door into a long hallway leading to a small lounging area with bookshelves and a sofa. There, sitting by himself, was Pat. He looked up, saw me, held up his arm and said in a loud voice, “You coming to see me?”  I said, “Yes, I am,” as he waved me on back and said, “Have a seat.” We shook hands and I asked him how he was feeling today. He replied while laughing, “Feeling fine and still kicking.” We started visiting and it wasn’t too long before another Air Force veteran joined us. On a previous visit, I had brought two large hardcover books with colored photos of planes of WWII and the Korean War for Pat and me to look at. Don B., a Korean War pilot himself, saw the books and soon was looking over our backs and joining in our conversation. It was a very nice visit 

On another visit, we were talking about Pat’s farms in the area, and discussed the livestock, crops, and machinery on his farms. I told Pat that I also grew up on a farm raising chickens, hogs, beef and dairy cattle, oats, beans, corn, alfalfa and clover hay. I asked Pat what was the thing he liked best on the farm; he was quick to answer with a big smile, “Making and baling hay.” We both agreed that there wasn’t anything to compare to the sweet scent of a freshly cut field of Alfalfa or Red Clover. 

During one of our visits, I told Pat that I was an army veteran and had gotten drafted during the Vietnam War. Pat responded that when the Korean War broke out, he knew it was his patriotic duty to help his country, but he did not want to shoot or kill anybody, so he enlisted in the U.S. Air Force. Pat couldn’t remember where he was stationed at the time, but there was an incidence where he caught two men stealing supplies. When they wouldn’t stop, he had to make up his mind on what to do. He explained, “I really did not want to hurt anybody, but I had to do something, so I shot them in the legs.” Other than this one incident, Pat said he really enjoyed his time in the Air Force and would do it all over again.

There was one visit where I got to sit with Pat during an hour-long music session. The young guitarist conducting the session would ask for requests from those in the room. Most of the songs were from the 40’s through the 70’s. Except for one song, where Pat dozed off, he sang and kept time with every song. He even got to beat time on a drum during one song.

During our visits, (except for my last two visits due to his decline in health) we always shook hands when I first came and again on leaving, at which Pat would smile and say, ”See ya next time,” and wave goodbye.

On my last visit to Pat, I met his daughter, Melanie, who had stayed overnight with Pat due to his recent health decline and worsening dementia. She said her mother and siblings were taking turns staying overnight with him. We talked about my visits, and she mentioned how Pat seemed to perk-up when they talked about the Air Force with him. Unfortunately, Pat passed away two days after this visit.

When I attended Pat’s funeral, I wore my VFW uniform, and upon arriving, I expressed my condolences to Melanie as she introduced me to her sisters. They thanked me and expressed their appreciation for me coming that day. I then walked to Pat’s casket. Pat was in a new black suit and looked very sharp with the tri-folded American flag just to the left of his head. While there, Melanie came over and said they had a new U.S. Air Force logo pin and were wondering if it would be okay for it to be buried with Pat. I said I was sure Pat would be very proud to have that pin. Melanie returned with several members of her family, handed me the pin and asked me to put it on Pat. I put the pin on Pat’s left lapel, straightened it, stepped back, came to attention, and gave Air Force Veteran G. Patrick R. a final salute.

– Dennis