Join the journey of a fairly recently graduated MSW social worker, navigating the expanse of hospice social work in the south, the ups and downs of graduate school, LCSW exam stress and excitement, and preparing for a future in macro social work practice

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

This life is the time to prepare

I can see where working with terminally ill patients can be difficult. The first patient that I ever visited as a hospice social worker passed away last week. She was a lovely patient to visit, and she has a wonderful, supportive family. Four days prior to her passing, I visited her and she was sitting up in her chair applying makeup and chatting amicably with us. Three days later, the nurse informed me that she was on her way out. That evening, she was gone.

Having never really dealt with the death of a loved one in my life, I have a hard time understanding the emotions that go through an individual’s mind as they watch their loved ones decline in health. Grief is a complicated thing. A lot goes into the process. I recently got put in charge of the grief and bereavement process, and so I am learning a lot about how people grieve. I work real closely with a chaplain and I absolutely love the fact that I can bring spirituality into this. People are so close to God at this unique time in their lives, and so I love the fact that we can freely discuss spiritual principles in a public setting.

I am looking for more information on the bereavement process. I am trying to study and learn about how different people grieve and how they heal. I am getting the hang of the healing process myself, but I need to learn more about the grieving process. Interesting. Hmm. I think I need to study more.

One thing I’ve learned in the month of living and working here is that there are many things that we can do to prepare ourselves so that the end of our lives are as non-stressful as possible. People on their deathbed shouldn’t have to worry about Medicaid applications. They shouldn’t have to worry about paying for a Notary or appointing a power of attorney. They should all be able to focus their energy on their family, preparing for the next life, and dying peacefully, pain-free, and worry-free. It really is important to figure those things out now, so that we have the time and energy later in life to focus on what really matters at that time.

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