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In grief, all that love needs somewhere to go

Optage Hospice grief messageFrom “Springs of Living Water,” the grief support e-newsletter of Optage Hospice
“In the end, we remember people in pieces—slivers of memory, images, bursts of sound, and trails of whispers,” writes Patti Davis in her book Floating in the Deep End: How Caregivers Can See Beyond Alzheimer’s

If you are a caregiver losing your loved one slowly, or if you have recently experienced the death of a loved one, you may be experiencing some of what Patti Davis describes here. We grieve for our loved ones even as we say goodbye to them, day-by-day. And after they die, we remember them in the moments we expected to share with them: the birth of a grandchild, an 80th birthday party, a family wedding. Grief does not just break our hearts; it can also frustrate them. Because after a lifetime of caring, all that love still needs somewhere to go. 

Here are some ideas for expressing that love: 

  1. Write a letter…or a book. What do you do with all the memories you would like to keep? You could put them into a letter, or you could create a photo book or gather stories for a longer collection. 
  2. Create a space to reflect. During the caregiving journey, and for quite a long time afterward, it may be helpful if you carve out a space in your home to sit and reflect on the changes you are experiencing. You could add photos, a battery-powered candle, items that help you connect with your loved one and a comfortable chair where you can linger. 
  3. Honor a legacy. Consider what your loved one was passionate about. Could you donate to an organization in his or her honor or practice random acts of kindness in his or her name? This world is full of brokenness and pain. As you care for others, your own spirit may also find consolation. 
  4. Tend a grave. After your loved one dies, it can be comforting to tend their grave. Tidy it up, leave flowers, talk to your person. Observe the changes that come as the seasons shift—not just in the world around you, but in yourself as well.
We invite you to learn more about attending a Grief Group (over Zoom) by emailing facilitator Jenny Schroedel from Optage Hospice: [email protected].

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