Jane Brody writing in the NYT spoke about her personal loss and how it fit into David Kessler's new book "Finding Meaning: The Sixth Stage of Grief". Brody’s article is an excellent read and thought piece for any of us who have grieved or are grieving.
Brody points out how Kessler in his book speaks to the various ways those living with the loss of a loved one find meaning. Some donate organs of their loved ones who've died. Others finding meaning in thoughts of the after life. Some use writing poems or memoirs to find meaning. We all try to find meaning with some success or not.
Brody rightly points out that being able to find meaning does not assuage or erase grief. She notes that Kessler makes the point suffering " is what our mind does to us" and it can be mitigated in the search for meaning. The operative word here mitigated from the early 15c., "relieve (pain); make mild or more tolerable; reduce in amount or degree. Reduce.
I subscribe to Closure is a myth. Closure is indifference. Closure is denial said pretty. I do not try to find closure for Donna's death. Instead I charged at my grief and looked hard at what it was telling me. I examined the grief, the loss, Donna, and us to see how the pieces feel and worked together in some new way. I think for me my grief journey is less about healing and more about knowledge. Knowledge of us and love. What birthed from this grief exercise was a fierce and relentless examination titled "Donna, A Photo Memoir of Love and Loss". A memoir of healing for me and the presentation of the woman I loved to the world.
Nashville Public Radio had this piece by Blake Farmer. The title alone stopped me since I am a hard core advocate for hospice ever since Donna was moved to hospice for her final 21 days. As I have said frequently: "Hospice saved my life."
Farmer notes first and foremost that more Americans spend their final days at home surrounded and cared for by family members. Which means the long-term care system is relying on unpaid family members act as intermediaries for the majority of end-of-life care which takes a toll (emotional, financial, and spiritual) on those caregivers.
I did not realize that the average amount of time patients spend on hospice has been increasing. Part of this is that with the ACA hospitals are driven to reduce the number of deaths that occur in the hospital and physicians are improving quality of life at end of life. Thus patients who are dying are moving to hospice care, at home hospice care.
With at-home hospice, everyday care taking — and even many tasks that would be handled by professionals in a hospital or nursing home — are left to the family.
When Donna was approaching her end-of-life I was at first offered Home Hospice. Shortly after the bed and other materials arrived and while Donna was still in the hospital (not hospice yet) her oncologist and primary care physician thought it would be better for me if she went into the in-unit hospice. At first I thought that it was because I was an emotional mess and incapable of care. That was part of it but, the bigger part was the reality. Her care in-unit would be superior. It was and that allowed me to move from caregiver to being a love one again. She died in hospice 21 days later and though I missed it by a few minutes (story here) I was able to spend time focused on her and us.
Today I am a hospice volunteer and see that the in-unit hospice is largely empty with patients moved to home hospice for all the reasons above it is my experience that in unit gave Donna the death she wanted. I understand markets behave as markets yet I have guilt that Donna’s care in-unit saved my life and give me the time, albeit short, to be a loved one again.
This is from the Journal Angelus whose stated mission is 'to provide our readers with the best in Catholic news…'
This piece opens with a quote from "The Inner Voice of Love"
“The great challenge is living your wounds through instead of thinking them through. It is better to cry than to worry, better to feel your wounds deeply than to try to understand them, better to let them enter into your silence than to talk about them. The choice you face constantly is whether you are taking your hurts to your head or to your heart.
“In your head you analyze them, find their causes and consequences, and coin words to speak and write about them. But no final healing is likely to come from that source. You need to let your wounds go down into your heart. Then you can live them through and discover that they will not destroy you. Your heart is greater than your wounds.”
The piece ends with the thoughts that we can't make peace with our wounds without grieving. I have no argument with that and fully subscribe to that entire process. I have done that and will continue to as I find more and more self knowledge.