For starters, Norine Dresser and Fredda Wasserman’s Chapter 12: Supporting Those Who Grieve should be mandatory reading for everyone as it addresses what you should and shouldn’t say to a grieving individual.
Recently, a dear friend lost her beloved pet. The “Platitudes to Avoid” section on page 181 in this chapter helped me to comfort her while steering away from potentially hurtful comments such as: “Well, in time you’ll be able to adopt another dog.”
Furthermore, how often do we hear people say, “It was for the best.”
Dresser and Wasserman ask, “Best for whom? Who makes that judgment?”
Sooner or later each of us will experience grief. The following highlights will help us to deal with our own grief and to help others.
Chapter 3: The “H” Word
What is Hospice? What does it offer? Is it right for you or your loved one?
In our case, hospice gives my mother peace of mind. While Mother knows what to expect the nurse answers my unfolding questions.
Chapter 4: Caregiver Challenges
On page 37, Dresser and Wasserman provide information to help families adapt to “role changes.” Furthermore, they advise: Be flexible. Make joint decisions as long as possible. Ask for assistance.
Chapter 6: Preparing to Say Goodbye
Page 63 lists topics to talk about when you don’t know what to say.
If you are the one who is ill, maybe you may raise these issues for discussion. Start with your favorite memories.
Chapter 8: Funerals
This chapter helps readers understand the different parts of a funeral, different kinds of funerals, and how different religions handle funerals. A military funeral follows vastly different protocols than an Indian funeral. Then there’s the kind of funeral our family would like to have (page 102). “To honor the joys in [my mother’s] life, kiss someone you love, and eat a piece of pepperoni pizza.”
Chapter 10: Grieving
The section on “Hopelessness.” starting on page 137 unfolds with stories that alert us to the danger signs when grief gets the better of us. These stories help us to understand if we or someone we know needs help and is not be able to ask for it.
Chapter 11: What about the Children?
A very touching story on page 167 entitled, Four Candles describes a grieving father who starts a ritual with his three children. When one of them misses their mom they light a candle. Their lit candle alerts dad to the child who needs extra attention.
At the end of the book is a Discussion Guide that helps families and friends deal with death or the “Elephant in the Room.” As difficult as it is to discuss these issues openly, they are more easily discussed among family members before there is a dire need to discuss them.
Saying Goodbye to Someone You Love is more than a caregiver’s guide, the dying individual is also saying goodbye to someone s/he loves.
Most of the information is given in little stories, anecdotes, and vignettes–some from the patient’s point of view and others from the caregiver’s. Each can learn what to expect and how to ease the transition for everyone.
The Caregiver’s Voice Guest Reviewer