I am a social worker at a very small, local hospital. In recent years, the social work role at our hospital has changed. We now find ourselves trying to counsel people who have experienced the sudden loss of a loved one, as well as patients who receive a devastating medical diagnosis.
As a result, we are trying to create a resource library of information and articles we can distribute to patients and their families as they leave us. It would also be beneficial to have information on helping children cope with loss.
Do you have any resources you can share with us?
Resources to Help Patients Who Are Grieving
I understand hospitals have faced many changes in the last decade and staff roles are ever-evolving. And I do have some resources I think will be helpful for you and your colleagues to share with families.
Dealing with the Sudden Loss of a Loved One
Grief is a very individual experience. Some people seem to make their way through the five stages of grief in a fairly linear process while others don’t. For family members and friends who have suddenly lost a loved one in a traumatic event like an automobile accident or a through a sudden medical event like a heart attack, the shock of such an unexpected loss can make grieving all the more difficult.
Here are a few resources you can print and share with these families:
- Grief and Loss Following Traumas and Disasters: Written by the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization, this resource addresses the challenges families face when coping with a sudden loss caused by a trauma or disaster.
- Grief Speaks: This helpful article is a good one to share when a sudden trauma takes a loved one’s life. It covers everything from legal concerns to recognizing the signs of post-traumatic stress syndrome.
- Dealing with Sudden, Accidental or Traumatic Death: An organization called Journey of the Hearts created this very insightful resource. It covers factors that range from coping with the unexpectedness of a sudden death, as well as how grieving this type of loss is different from grieving a loss from natural causes.
Helping Children Cope with the Loss of a Loved One
Children process and cope with loss differently depending upon how old they are and how close they were to the loved one that was lost. Adults often struggle to know what to say to kids or what to expect as time goes by. These articles are ones you can share when a family who has experienced a loss has children.
- Helping Your Child Deal with Death: Kids Health created this article to address the issues a family may encounter in helping a child deal with a loved one’s death. They explore a variety of topics such as the importance of explaining funeral rituals, how to help children express their feelings, and what to watch for in a child who is grieving.
- Helping Children Cope with the Death of a Loved One: The National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization developed this brochure to offer families advice for talking with their kids about a loved one’s death, sharing feelings together, and preparing a child for the funeral.
Coping with a Difficult Medical Diagnosis
Finally, when you are working with someone who has received some difficult health news, the following information is good to have on hand to share.
- Coping with the Diagnosis of a Chronic Illness: Written by the American Psychological Association, this article covers a wide range of topics. Primarily, it can be helpful in covering the emotional side of learning you have a serious health condition.
- Cancer Diagnosis: 11 Steps for Coping: Cancer can be one of the most difficult diagnoses for a person to receive. Even though great progress has been made in treating almost every form of the disease, just hearing the word “cancer” can be devastating. This article from Cleveland Clinic covers coping with frequent medical appointments, hospital stays and more.
- 6 Ways to Conquer a Scary Diagnosis: From the experts at WebMD, this article offers advice for people who have received bad medical news. From overcoming paralyzing fear to staying positive, they share specific steps for coping.
I hope these articles are helpful as you work to build your patient library!
Until next time,