Grief and Death Feed

Family caregivers provide many functions for their older adults or spouses, from transporting them to a social event to encouraging healthy habits. Caregivers can also find themselves in a cycle of bouncing from one emergency to the next. Juggling crises is a significant part of what we do, so learning how to handle these situations is helpful. Emergency physician Kevin Haselhorst, M.D., an expert in advance care planning, speaks to patients, family members, and healthcare providers about advance directives, palliative, and end-of-life care. Here are some of his tips. Read more →


Birth, graduations, marriage, anniversaries, death - important moments in our lives are often celebrated by some type of ceremony. In our middle to late years, we are often encouraged to plan the type of funeral we'd like, even pre-paying so our loved ones won't have to juggle business and grief. Everyone has different ideas about when a ceremony is appropriate, however, I've learned about a new ceremony that I find very appealing.   It's the "Walking You Home" program and it offers a dignified touch and family support immediately after the death of a loved one. Read more →


Our culture is steeped in language that makes accepting the terminal diagnosis of ourselves or a loved one more difficult to accept than it needs to be. Doctors say, “I’m sorry, there’s nothing more we can do. You might want to look into hospice care.” Patients tell their doctors that they want “aggressive treatment,” until there is nothing else that can be done, then they will go on hospice care. The crux of these conversations is that medicine will do everything possible and then when you give up you will go on hospice care. Read more →


It's difficult to know exactly what to say to someone suffering from grief since words or actions that comfort one person can feel like a slap in the face to another. Yet most of us want to offer comfort when a person whom we care about is grieving the imminent death of a loved one, or after such a death has occurred. Following are tips that may help you find the right words, or at least some passable words, as well as advice from caregivers and spouses who’ve been through tough times. Read more →


Dear Carol: This January marks one year since my mother died. My dad adored her, as we all did, but he's having a harder time adjusting than we kids, which I suppose is to be expected. Mom had cancer but her treatments proved to be ineffective so she eventually went on hospice care. With hospice helping, Mom was coherent during the holidays last year. We got through it, and Dad did admirably well, considering the circumstances. Read more →


Will the Christmas tree bring Mom happy memories of past Christmas pleasures or will it remind her of the Christmas tree fire in her home when she was a five-year-old child? Will the gathering of loving relatives bring her a feeling of being loved and cared for or will she suffer from horrible anxiety because of all of these people who have become strangers? Read more →


Dear Carol: Last year was a tough one for my family. Dad had never recovered from a massive stroke that he suffered two years ago and Mom, who’d been his caregiver, discovered shortly after his death that she had advanced breast cancer. They were both 79. Mom was peaceful with the fact that the cancer was too advanced for her to fight and said that she was ready to join dad. We realize that since she was beyond treatment when she was diagnosed she was showing a healthy attitude, but my sister and I are still feeling traumatized by the year. Our parents loved Christmas and spent weeks decorating and preparing, which is making this year extra hard. My sister said that the only reason that she’s going to celebrate at all is for her husband and kids. I’m single and have no children. I’m close to my family and have great friends but I’d just like to skip this holiday. Should I make an effort for myself? I’m torn. – HP Read more →


Dear Carol:  About six months ago my dad had a stroke that’s left him struggling to get out his words. Since he was always so eloquent, this is extra hard on him. I dread visiting him at the nursing home because my visits seem to cause him more frustration than pleasure. I know he wants me to visit, but maybe the fact that we’d always had fun debating ideas makes it harder on him since I bring back memories of better days. I love him and want to spend as much time with him as I can, but how do I do this without causing him grief?  – RE Read more →


HealthCentral: In reading “The Only Way Out,” I was especially taken with your advice about saying goodbye to your old life and letting go of what was before you can move on. This is a complicated process, and your book takes this on in depth, but could you give us a few brief tips that people can hold on to? Read more →


Kathi Koll, author of “Kick-Ass Kinda Girl: A Memoir of Life, Love, and Caregiving” knows the drill. She and her husband, Don, lived a life of glitz and glamour, working and playing alongside friends who were celebrities and politicians. Read more →