By Del Mcalister Australia
Working in senior care can be deeply fulfilling, yet it carries the heavy weight of heartbreak as many of our clients inevitably pass away.
While we often put on a brave face and muster the strength to carry on for the sake of those we care for, it's essential to recognize the profound grief that resides within us.
Unresolved grief can give rise to what we call 'compounded grief,' a term that encompasses layers of unacknowledged and unresolved sorrow. Since attending funeral services may not always be possible, we must discover our own ways to cope with the regular losses we experience in this field.
So, what can we do to navigate this emotional terrain effectively?
We mustn't suppress or internalize our sadness. Emotions, especially those associated with grief, should not be hidden away or ignored. Instead, we must remain connected to our feelings and find healthy outlets to process them. These can include:
Everyone copes with grief differently, so it's crucial to discover what brings comfort on a personal level. Some strategies to consider include:
Sharing experiences and grief with colleagues can be therapeutic. These support groups, ideally facilitated by a chaplain or someone with counseling skills, allow staff to support each other in their journey of grieving the loss of a resident. As the saying goes, "A problem shared is a problem halved."
Self-care is paramount. Nurture your own well-being by indulging in activities that enhance your sense of self. These could include:
There is a valuable lesson in a fable about two trees - the willow and the oak. The willow, despite admiring the oak's strength, ultimately proved more resilient during a severe storm.
Resilience is not about suppressing grief but rather the strength to embrace and process it. It enables us to absorb sadness and discover ways to live with it. Building resilience involves accessing resources, seeking support from caring individuals, and finding avenues for healing when our hearts ache.
In this field of senior care, where we witness both the joys and sorrows of life, it's crucial to acknowledge and address the emotional toll it takes. By adopting these strategies, caregivers can better manage their grief, find solace in each other's company, and continue to provide compassionate care with a stronger spirit.