November 2020

Caregivers Grieve Too! Part 1

I like to think of grieving as a process of seeking balance to a new world order. What was normal has now changed that seeks we as caregivers into a new place, like descending rapidly down an elevator shaft. Caregivers experience grief because they care. There is a normalness to grieve, for caregivers in general go out of their ways, even heroically at times, because they put the interests of those they serve first.
Is it any wonder that caregivers today during this pandemic, and also as they face Thanksgiving, feel the burden of a lack of time to process the grief they are experiencing. Too many critical patients, too many deaths, too many going from one crisis to another. Healthcare professionals and first responders are especially impacted with the lack of time to process and seek a balance to this new normal. Caregivers at home face similar grieving as the pandemic and the restrictions that it imposes on them seeks to create a new normal, another time for balancing what was and now what is happening.
While most of us are familiar with the stages of grieving of Dr. Elizabeth Kubler-Ross, I would like to introduce you to Dr. William Worden's four tasks of grieving. They are:
  1. Accept the reality of the loss.
  2. Process your grief and Loss
  3. Adjust to your world without your loved one in it
  4. Find a way to maintain a connection to the person who died while embarking on your own life.
Today, let's explore task number one. I will explore the remaining three in subsequent posts.
Accepting the reality of the loss: This affects all of us in two particular ways, coping with a worldwide pandemic, and celebrating Thanksgiving differently. Consider how we as a nation are divided about the pandemic. Is it just like the flu or is it a national emergency? What is real is that Covid-19 is a killer. What is real is that our systems of healthcare are stretched beyond their capacity, that healthcare workers and first responders are experiencing the compassion fatigue and burnout, and some are dying. What is real is that we the public can't visit our loved ones as they are dying, that we can't say our goodbyes, that we who need non Covid emergency care have difficulty in getting a bed.
What is real is too much to bear, and yet we as a nation are confronted with a new normal and the loss of many of our daily activities., loss of the normalcy of work, of school, of entertainment, loss of visiting family and friends, loss of going out with the guys for a beer, or a girls night out. No time to process, and yet so much time to process. The celebration of Thanksgiving only complicates the loss we are feeling. Thanksgiving will be different this year most likely simpler, embracing what life is about, and being thankful as best we can. We caregivers grieve too. It is the human thing to do.
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