A friend’s mother died recently after a short illness. Diagnosed in December with a very aggressive form of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis- Lou Gehrig’s disease – she died in mid- March. This vibrant, young woman was struck down by a debilitating disease. The end was painful for the family as they watched the disease progress rapidly until she enrolled herself in hospice.
Her mother chose hospice and her family listened. Her husband of 48 years was devastated. He told everyone who came to the wake the story in the exact same way. His wife’s devastating diagnosis, the swiftness of her decline, the suffering, and the heartbreaking loss that he and his family were dealing with. My friend was reflecting on that and the way her father was handling his grief, and we talked about the importance of letting him tell his story and listening to it.
Expert Insight“Grief is made up of intense emotional and physical reaction that is characterized by deep sadness and a yearning to be with that person again, how we react will be different for each of us because grief is unique.”
Grief varies from person to person, how we deal with it and on what timeline is unique. How can we as caregivers and family members help when someone dies? Most importantly, remember that everyone grieves in their own style. The five stages that Dr. Elisabeth Kubler-Ross introduced in 1969 – denial, anger, bargaining, depression, acceptance – are a guideline and everyone is different. People that are dealing with a loss must be able to do what they are comfortable with, whether it be repeatedly telling their story, attending support groups or seeking out grief counselors, and on their own timeline.
Grief is something we all deal with during life. For my friend and family it is supporting her father by allowing him to tell his story in his own way to deal with his grief. It does not go away if it is ignored.
Mesothelioma victims and their families need support through their unique journey with mesothelioma. Don’t be afraid to listen. Everybody has a story and often just listening to it more than once can be helpful.