4 Ways to Better Understand Hospice Services and Process The Loss of a Loved One

Lucille Rosetti hopes her writings can bring some semblance of peace to those who are suffering in their grief.

two people having a discussion

The term “hospice” carries so much weight for such a small word. When a loved one needs hospice services, you know your time with them is limited. However, you should also know that you are making a positive choice to alleviate pain and suffering — for your loved one and yourself. So, in the middle of all of the emotional baggage, how can you make sense of what hospice care really means? By keeping these meaningful steps in the process in mind.

Don’t Be Afraid to Really Connect With Your Hospice Team

 Hospice teams understand the heavy emotions that come with their services, so they will understand if you have questions or concerns that can help you better process everything happening around you. Get to know the team and the people who make it up. One crucial member of this team will be a hospice social worker. This individual is your go-to for counseling and questions regarding the process of dying. Regardless of who you are, that’s an intense topic. But know that most hospice social workers complete a Master’s in Social Work program, which requires 900 to 1,200 hours of fieldwork connecting with families like yours. This may offer you comfort or it may not. However, at the very least, you will know that the hospice team has the experience needed to make this process as gentle as possible.


Do Gather Any Paperwork You Will Need During This Difficult Time

 There are many emotions involved with the death of a loved one, but there are some essential steps you will need to take care of as well. If you can take care of as much as possible now, you will save yourself and your loved one the added stress when things become more emotional in the future. So, before your hospice team arrives, try to speak with your loved one about essential documents, such as a healthcare power of attorney, estate plans, and any life insurance documentation that may exist. Your loved one may not be able to talk to you about their life insurance, but you can find out if a policy exists by asking other family members, checking their mail for statements, and even performing a search online.


Don’t Avoid Talking About End-of-Life Wishes and Arrangements

 Making decisions about the end of your loved one’s life is difficult enough without having to guess what their wishes may be. So, plan to talk to your loved one, if possible, about what end-of-life efforts they are comfortable with. It’s another difficult conversation to have, but it’s a necessary one if you want to help your family navigate funeral planning after your loved one has passed away. Just be sure to ask as many questions as needed, and take your time to avoid putting stress on your loved one. Talking about final wishes will also help you better prepare for the expenses associated with the burial and funeral services. If you need help paying for these services, you will also have time to reach out to organizations that provide funeral assistance.


Do Get Support and Help Processing All Levels of Your Grief

 When you have to actually prepare for the death of a loved one, your grief can begin before they are even gone. This kind of anticipatory grieving process can be difficult for loved ones to navigate on their own, so look for counselors who can help you. The hospice social worker mentioned above can offer some guidance but should also be able to refer you to counselors and support groups that can offer any additional help you may need. Also, know that grief looks different for everyone, but knowing common grief stages may help you process your pain.


Preparing to lose a loved one is never an easy process, but hospice care can make the transition easier on you and your loved one. Just be sure that you know what to expect from these services and the road that is ahead of you. It’s such a difficult path for anyone to walk, but compassion can go a long way in easing that journey.