Tag Archives: grief

Reflecting on Father's Day

Reflecting on Father’s Day

Father’s Day evokes a wide spectrum of memories and emotions for many people, but for someone whose father is deceased, it can be particularly bittersweet. The role and significance of a father or a father figure in one’s life can vary infinitely—as much as individual personalities and extended families vary. However, in some unfathomable way—regardless of how intimate or conflicted the relationship; how dramatic or reserved our expressions of feelings for one another; how deeply we try to emulate or avoid any resemblance to our fathers—they leave an indelible mark on our hearts, and impact us in profound ways.

For many, losing our parents is the final step into full adulthood and into a greater sense of our own identity, as well as our own mortality. Alexander Levy, in his book, The Orphaned Adult, said: “In adulthood, parents are like the rearview mirror of a car, making it safe to operate, as we head into the unknown, by providing a glimpse of where and who we have been so we can better understand where and who we are becoming.”

Perhaps one of the ways we best honor our deceased loved ones, or honor our own pain, is to tell the stories of them that hold meaning for us. If you are grieving the loss of your father this Father’s Day, you might choose to tell those stories to your children, your siblings, or in a grief support group. Or you may choose to write your stories, or tell them through art or music, or through any means of sharing that resonates with you. Tell about going to your first Padres’ game together, or about a conversation with him you’ll never forget, or about the day he taught you drive a stick shift. Tell about his sense of humor or his ability to grill the perfect steak. Tell about the disappointments, and about the relationship with him you wish you’d had. Or tell about the day you said goodbye, and what you now miss the most. The important thing is to pause long enough to remember and express our stories—the simple, pleasant ones, or perhaps the more complicated, painful ones. Each in their own way, pay tribute to the person we knew and to the memories we carry with us.

Wherever you are this Father’s Day, may you be comforted and supported by those who care about you. And if you could benefit from additional support, please allow the grief professionals at The Elizabeth Hospice to come alongside and walk with you on your journey, helping you discover valuable ways of coping with your unique loss. We would be honored to hear your stories.

Paula Bunn, LMFT, FT
Manager, Grief Counseling Services
The Elizabeth Hospice

In the News: Death from Suicide

This week’s news of the deaths of Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain from suicide, remind us of the reality that behind every face is a story, and often, we have no idea how painful or hopeless that story is to the one living it.

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), suicide is among the leading causes of death in the United States. Suicide rates increased in nearly every state from 1999 through 2016. One of the glaring myths about suicide is that it is always the result of mental illness. However, studies have shown that suicide is rarely caused by any single factor. Factors that can contribute to suicide include substance misuse, financial or legal stress, a recent crisis, or relationship issues.

Learning more about the warning signs for suicide and what we can do to help is important. Online resources such as reportingonsucide.org list the following:

 Warning Signs for Suicide
• Talking about wanting to die
• Looking for a way to kill oneself
• Talking about feeling hopeless or having no purpose
• Talking about feeling trapped or in unbearable pain
• Talking about being a burden to others
• Increasing the use of alcohol or drugs
• Acting anxious, agitated, or recklessly
• Sleeping too little or too much
• Withdrawing or feeling isolated
• Showing rage or talking about seeking revenge
• Displaying extreme mood swings

If you need help for yourself or someone else, please contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline:

• Talk: 1-800-273-TALK (8255)

• Chat: www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org

For those of you who have lost someone to suicide, we humbly acknowledge your unique burden of loss. Surely, suicide leaves a wake of devastation in its path that rocks us to our very roots. We want you to know that although you may likely never fully understand why, you can work through the pain, adjust to the hole left by someone’s absence, and move forward with renewed hope. It can be a long process, but we are here to walk alongside you. Call us and allow us the honor of supporting you on your journey.

At The Elizabeth Hospice, our grief support services are available to the community-at-large, regardless if a person was on hospice or the type of death experienced. Contact us today to find out more about how we can help at 800.797.2050 or learn about our ongoing grief support groups and services on our website.

Paula Bunn, Manager
The Elizabeth Hospice Grief Counseling Services

In the wake of life-limiting illness diagnosis…

Many think about grief as something that happens after a death – but grief often arrives with a variety of losses or impending loss, especially when one is diagnosed with a life-limiting illness.   At first, there may be shock or fear.  There may even be a curious calmness with the news.  But, once one begins to fully understand that the end of life is near, it is natural to begin grieving.  This grieving reaction is called anticipatory grief. Although different than the grief after the death of a loved one, anticipatory grief carries many of the same symptoms such as depression, anger, regret, guilt, even forgetfulness and fatigue.

It is important to accept this anticipatory grief response as normal and allow the feelings and expressions of loss and grief without judgment.  Although anticipatory grief is common with caregivers, it is also common with the person who has been diagnosed with the life-limiting illness – and there is support for both including support groups and counseling services.  Most important is to prioritize what things need to be done and what needs to be let go – in other words, say what is needed to be said, do what is needed to be done and make as many moments count with loved ones.

Remember, just like the grieving process, anticipatory grief is an individual process and it is a natural part of adjustment to living with loss.

If you or someone you know is living with a life-limiting illness, please know there are resources available. Ask your doctor about hospice care or palliative care services, or call The Elizabeth Hospice toll-free at 800-797-2050 or visit the website at www.elizabethhospice.org for more information.

By Donna-Marie Terranova, Staff Counselor
Center for Compassionate Care of The Elizabeth Hospice