Jul 13th 2008

Grief shared – help for Warren

Posted in Helen & Warren

Becky and Warren

  July 13, 2008 – There is help for grief, and Warren is getting some. A hospice social worker is coming to see him Monday, and today, educator Becky MacLachlan, a friend who lost her husband a decade ago to cancer and who runs a grief-sharing workshop, came to see Warren, along with Izzy, Lenore and me.
  Becky told Warren that it might be helpful to talk with others who have suffered similiar losses, and he agreed. He said he doesn’t want to be a whiner, and he was candid about his struggle to reconcile his life with the loss of his wife  Helen, to whom he was married for 60 years.
  Warren is talking more openly about his experience with grief, and he said it was helpful to talk about his loss, as long as it didn’t seem like complaining. It doesn’t. He is careful to intersperse talk about himself with conversation directed at others. 
  Becky was skilled at approaching the subject, without forcing it on Warren, and the two settled into easy chatter about houses, country life and the loss of somebody you love. It is not, both agreed, something you ever get over.
  I’ve learned in hospice to let the patients and their families take the lead in conversations, to let them decide the pace and intensity. Sometimes they can talk openly about death and grief, sometimes not, and that it something that needs to be respected. Warren and I can talk freely and comfortably now, and that is in itself a help sometimes. Warren has a wide range of interests, and it is often useful, I think, to talk about other things,  and get back to his loss when and if he is comfortable.
  Warren is considering whether or not he want to go to a hospice group that meets weekly with members of the families of people who have died. “I think it might help. It is good to know what that other people are experiencing what you are experiencing.” And good to know, I think, that sudden waves of sadness and confusion are inevitable, even healthy sometimes.
  His days are long, disorienting, painful. He is resilient, self-aware, independent. He doesn’t miss much.
  I suspect Warren has never asked for help in his life, and he doesn’t really know how to do it, something I’ve seen before in hospice. But that doesn’t mean it isn’t there, or that it can’t get to him.
  Seeing him light up when Izzy and Lenore walked in the room was a pleasure. And he told me he would love it if Becky came back. We will.
  I gently encouraged Warren to go to at least one hospice bereavement meeting, if he feels he is ready, and to wait if he isn’t. We’ll see.
  I wasn’t sure myself how much real help is possible for people who have suffered such enormous loss. It is good to know that there is help, and that it helps.