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Health & Exercise Forum

Hospice Care- Part 3 of 3: Bereavement

Nov 28, 2011

Dr. Mackarey's Health & Exercise ForumHospice Care and the Concept of Bereavement: Part 3 of 3

Guest Columnist: Ralph DeMario, MD, CMO Hospice of the Sacred Heart

Over the past few weeks, we have discussed the role of hospice in the lives of those patients and families with a serious or terminal illness, all in honor of National Hospice Month. It indeed would be unusual to find a person whose life has not been touched by someone with a terminal illness or who has not benefited from this invaluable service. This week we dedicate Part III to those who survive the death of a loved one.

The concept of bereavement refers to the process of grief and mourning that occurs after any loss or delivery of bad news. It needs to be remembered that grief is a natural, normal and expected response to the loss of someone we loved and held dear. As a patient begins the journey of hospice, so begins the process of bereavement as well.

Many do not realize that after the loss of a loved one, bereavement services continue for at least one year and are included in the hospice benefit with no additional charge. The hospice bereavement team will assist family, caregivers and significant others through the grieving process – discovering and accepting the “new normal.” The team will help with the social, spiritual, and emotional aspects of the process.

It is important to realize that the grieving process is a very personal experience, although there are a few suggestions that may make the journey a little easier:

  • If confronted with a rush or memory, let it flow: it’s ok to remember and it’s ok to cry.
  • Often calling a friend, taking a walk or writing in your journal can be helpful.
  • Forgetfulness, poor concentration and distraction are common and normal to the grieving process.
  • It is ok to feel angry, scared, empty or lost – remember it’s your loss and your feelings.
  • Keep yourself healthy – exercise, eat well, see you doctor regularly and get plenty of sleep.
  • It is ok to acknowledge the loss – you don’t have to pretend that everything is ok.
  • If you need help, call your hospice professional – they are there to assist you with the process. You don’t have to go through this alone.

Many hospice agencies will offer support groups for bereavement, programs for children who have suffered a loss, and specialized sessions for spouses who are now living alone after the loss of a partner. If you are not sure of what services are available, ask your hospice professional. Discussing and talking about your loss is never a bad idea.

So remember that grief and mourning are your personal experience. There is no right or wrong way to grieve the loss of a loved one. Give yourself the opportunity and time to grieve in your own way and at your own pace.

“Take my hand and lead me to salvation -

Take my love, for love is everlasting and remember the truth that once was spoken –

To love another person is to see the face of God.”

---Les Miserables

Guest Columnist: Ralph DeMario, MD, CMO, Hospice of the Sacred Heart

Read Dr. Mackarey’s Health & Exercise Forum – Every Monday. This article is not intended as a substitute for medical treatment. If you have questions related to your medical condition, please contact your family physician. For further inquires related to this topic email:

Paul J. Mackarey PT, DHSc, OCS is a Doctor  in Health Sciences specializing in orthopaedic and sports physical therapy. Dr. Mackarey is in private practice and is an affiliate faculty member at the University of  Scranton, PT Dept.