Death, Dying, and Grief and Bereavement
To identify an issue associated with grief at one developmental stage it would have to be later adulthood. At this stage, most of the life has been lived and loved ones begin to die especially in many instances it is the spouse that passes away. In higher income countries, people die of higher order diseases. According to Mossler and Ziegler (2016), “physically, in high-income countries people typically die of chronic conditions like cardiovascular disease, cancer, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).” (p. 15.1)The grief associated with this time of life is a lifetime of memories and experiences that will not be forgotten. It is important to comfort those in this time of life and support them psychosocially for the adjustments that have to be made. Inevitably depression can creep in and take hostage of the person for a while until the finances and other items in one’s life are sorted out.
To describe a scenario in which an individual is dealing with this issue, I refer to my experience working in a long-term care facility as a nursing assistant. I saw droves of couples with children entering the facility with lots of end-of-life decisions to be made. Oftentimes, the husband had passed away leaving the wife to be concerned with bills and funeral arrangements. Many times, the wife had to deal with medical records and making decisions about whether or not to resuscitate. These are tough decisions to make especially if one is not prepared with the information ahead of time. Many times these couples in the long-term care center were admitted together and one was ready to pass away. There would be hospice care right there in the center and the husband or wife would be put on morphine and comfort measures such as drinking liquids but no food or other medications.
I would counsel any husband or wife that came to my long-term care center that it is important to fill out an advanced directive and have a proxy on hand. According to Kamo and colleagues (2017), “It has been determined that the effectiveness of a multifaceted quality improvement intervention in outpatient clinics at an integrated healthcare delivery system on capture rate of advance directive usage is higher in percentage then other locales.” (para. 8) Having an advance directive allows doctors, nurses, social workers and other personnel know what the older person wants done medically. The proxy can be chosen at any time prior to getting sick so that s/he can administer the information in the advance directive. It is also wise to have a living will. This will also have a section in it for items such as finances and property which a lawyer can look over and make sure the person is covered. This way in case something happens, medically and property-wise all is taken care of. One internet resource that is good for death and dying is dyingmatters.org. This website is replete with information for older people, healthcare professionals and children of older parents on what and how to prepare for old age.
Kamo, N., Williams, B. L., Smith, D. L., & Blackmore, C. C. (2017). Improving the Electronic Capture of Advance Care Directives in a Healthcare Delivery System. Journal Of The American Geriatrics Society, 65(5), 973-979. doi:10.1111/jgs.14695
Death, Dying, and Grief
This week’s text describes grief as the emotional response to loss (Mossler & Zeigler, 2016). An individual that is grieving may experience feelings of anger, depression, disbelief, and sorrow (Mossler & Ziegler, 2016). The majority of individuals experiencing grief from the death of a loved one, have experienced these feelings. Children, like adults, experience grief after experiencing a significant loss. However, some children may not have developed language skills to explain their emotions (Stutey, Helm, LoSasso, & Kreider, 2016). The lack of language skills may cause children to express their feelings or grief through throwing tantrums or the outburst of anger (Mossler & Zeigler, 2016). Children may regress or indulge in risky or selfish behavior.
Suzie age 6, lost both of her parents in a car accident. Suzie is having a difficult time accepting the loss of her parents and is pretending that her parents are away on an extended vacation. Six months after the death of her parents, Suzie is having tantrums at school and having nightmares. Her Aunt, who is now her legal guardian has decided that Suzie needs grief counseling to help her with the death of her parents. If I were Suzie’s counselor, I would engage her in expressive therapies such as play therapy and art. Play therapy provides opportunities for children to play out their grief and anxieties. Art therapy offers a form of expression for children who may be struggling to verbally express their feelings. Research has shown that expressive therapies are effective in treating children who have experienced a traumatic event (Stutey, Helm, LoSasso, & Kreider, 2016). My interventions with Suzie would also include verbal counseling and counseling sessions that include the surviving family members.
Jessica’s House is a grief counseling center located in Turlock, California. Jessica’s House staff provides grief counseling for children, teens, young adults and their family members. This agency also offers peer support groups and community resources for youth and young adults who have experienced the death of a loved one or someone close. They also offer grief support to local schools and organizations. Jessica’s House does not charge a fee for their services.
Mossler, R. A., & Ziegler, M. (2016). Understanding development: A lifespan perspective. San Diego, CA: Bridgepoint Education, Inc.
Stutey, D. M., Helm, H. M., LoSasso, H., & Kreider, H. D. (2016). Play therapy and photo-elicitation: A narrative examination of children’s grief. International Journal Of Play Therapy, 25(3), 154-165. doi:10.1037/a0039956