Monday, June 20, 2016


     For many families, planning for funerals is not a subject that comes up easily.  Many people die unexpectedly, making the subject academic.  The question then is what kind of a funeral should a person choose when the last wishes of the deceased are not known?
     Communication can be the key.  Discuss the matter with friends and relatives.  Perhaps someone does recall the deceased having made some comments, even humorous, about the kind of funeral and interment he or she would have liked.
     What were the tastes and tendencies of the deceased?  Would he or she have wanted a lavish funeral?  Would he or she have enjoyed having many people attend or just a few close friends?  Would flowers be appropriate?  How about religious conviction and affiliation?  Then make your decision as best you can, based on your knowledge of the deceased, and let the matter rest without guilt or second thoughts.

Friday, June 10, 2016


     Sometimes the loss of a loved one can bring most overwhelming pain, the kind that can barely be endured.  It may seem impossible to ever really recover from that loss, and yet most people do.  Unless the grief becomes pathological or obsessive, somehow it does abate.  No matter how intense, no matter how many mornings one wakes up feeling as depressed as the day before, time will come when the pain eases.
     Of course, the sadness never disappears entirely, not if the person was much cherished.  It is hard to imagine the parents of a deceased child ever ceasing to feel sorrow for their loss.  It is hard to imagine how the survivor of a happy marriage could ever stop missing the lost mate, no matter how many years they are separated by death.  Most of us, however, do come to terms with bereavement pain and do reach an ACCOMMODATION with grief.  We may never forget the loss, but we can recall it with some equanimity.

Saturday, May 28, 2016


     After the death of a loved one, feelings can often be ambivalent.  That is grief.  There may also be some sense of relief.  Whether the relief comes from the feelings that the loved one is no longer suffering, from not having to witness that suffering, or from not having to care for the person any longer, such reactions are human and natural.
     However, most people don't see it that way.  They feel guilty about these natural feelings.  Could they have really loved the person if one part of them feel relieved by the death?  They may blame themselves for not having done more, for having uttered some cross words, for not having been at the person's side more.
     Self-blame is a no-win deal.  No matter what miracles of caring or nurturing the bereaved may have performed for the deceased, there will ALWAYS be gaps in the record and hence room for self-doubts.  The more a survivor broods on what might have been, the worse things get psychologically.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016


     During the period of mourning, people suffer from physical problems which could also be considered as "psychosomatic".
     Physical side effects of mourning can include a number fo possible ailments, ranging from headache attacks to asthma, fatigue, indigestion, constipation, impotency, skin rashes, shortness of breath, dizziness, weight loss, fainting spells, palpitation, tightness in the chest, loss of appetite, nausea, ect.  More serious diseases can also be linked to bereavement, especially when the bereavement is intense.
     Can anything be done about this?  It is sound policy for a person who is grieving to seek frequent medical checkups; to get extra sleep, rest, and exercise; to eat well; to maintain social contacts; and to be kind to oneself.  Remember: the grieving person IS more physically and emotionally fragile than usual.

Tuesday, May 3, 2016


     The Hospice Movement was started in 1948 at St. Christopher's Hospice in London.  A hospice can be either a separate institution or a section of a hospital where special care is provided for dying patients, ensuring that they spend their last days quietly, productively, painlessly, and lovingly attended to.
     A friendly, non -institutional atmosphere is encouraged, and nurses and doctors are dedicated to providing patient-oriented services.  In some hospices, patients live in private rooms decorated to their tastes and furnished with their own belongings; while others prefer to be in their own home.  In others, patients spend much of their time commuting back and forth between hospice and home.  In any hospice, visiting hours are open, friends and family are encouraged to come at any time, and visits from children, whatever their age, are heartily welcomed.  The goal is to make the experience of dying as serene, dignified, and supportive as possible.

Friday, April 15, 2016


     Sometimes the bereaved tend to go through stages that parallel those of the dying person.  This can take place both before and after the death of a loved one.  That is, those close to a dying person may pass through some form of denial as soon as they learn the person has a terminal disease.  "It can't be so, it can't be true that my husband is dying"  Then comes anger - at oneself, at the dying person, at the doctor, at the Fates.  There is also bargaining.  "Just give him a little more time, God." Then depression.  "I can't go on without him if he dies".  Finally - acceptance.
     After death the same stages present themselves also, although often in random patterns.  Denial is there, and certainly anger and depression.  Though it is too late for bargaining, that too may appear.  However, in the end, most people arrive at acceptance.  Just as it is healthy for a dying person to work through these stages, so it is for the survivors.

Monday, April 4, 2016


Not surprisingly, the emotional support we can bring a dying person is similar to those the living thrive on: compassion, patience, sincerity, and an honest interest in the person's welfare, thought, feelings, and opinions. Above all, you need to show faithfulness and perseverance - the promises that you will be there to the end. In this regard, it is often considered a helpful practice somewhere along the way to tell the dying person this quite directly: that you won't run out, that you can be depended on.
Basically, there are only two ways we can make a dying person comfortable: by assuring physical comfort; and by assuring psychological comfort. The former is fairly straight forward; the latter is a more subtle process. It is met only by constantly recalling the fact that someday the dying person in the bed will be you, and that every kindness you would wish for and need then, the patient wishes for and needs now.