End of life care, the aftermaths of death and dying as faced by spouses, partners, families, and friends

Bereavement is never easy. Bereavement can last … not all bereavement is depression or anxiety. Humans sometimes can let go easily and sometimes not so. We are each in our own time cycle. The feelings can be as varied as the spectrum of light. No one is right and no one is wrong. What truly matters is how can we help those who have lost a near and dear one recently.

Everyone has lost someone in their lives. In my journey as a Geriatrician and hospice physician, end of life care was beyond end of life care. There were times, when my elderly dying patients had more concerns for the people they were leaving behind than themselves or could be vice versa. In each of those cases, there was a deep sense of thought and connection.

So what must we look for in the spouses, partners, families or friends of an elderly person after their deaths?

Here are some finer points we may sometimes miss:

  1. What and how have things changed? What was it before? How did they cope previously? Were they under the care of a professional or seeking help?
  2. What are their feelings? What do they most miss? What are their concerns? Has anyone had a 101 meeting to understand them? What did they tell others? Right after the passing away and as time went by?
  3. What were the memories they remember? How do they spend their time? Do they have regrets or negative memories that are making this bereaving process worse?
  4. Who are their supports? How frequently do they meet or get to speak to? What are their wishes?
  5. Are their behaviors appropriate or not? Are they despondent? Feeling hopeless? have they been neglecting themselves? Did they have a closure? under what circumstances? Were they able to meet the caregivers and healthcare professionals that cared for their beloved? Did they have any unanswered questions for them ?

These few things might alleviate a lot of anxiety and sadness and bring in good will. I still remember an incident where the elderly spouse of my deceased patient come meet me in my office and cry as he extended his gratitude and thanks with a hug. That was what he wanted to get a closure. Simple acts of empathy, compassion and kindness are enough for humans. Sometimes words are too harsh for soft circumstances.

With this we conclude this blog in our end of life care series. We would love reading comments, ideas or feedbacks and please feel free as always to share with us. Thank you, until next time, remember mihygge is part of end of life care.

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