The pain of losing someone close to you may never really ever go away, but while you can take steps to manage that memory, and not let it overtake you, there are subtle differences in the dynamics between dealing with the fallout of a sudden death, versus one that was long-anticipated – though, by no means is the grief easier in either circumstance.
“All losses are difficult in different ways,” said Rebecca Bowie, co-ordinator of the volunteer hospice visiting service, during an interview at her office at Community Home Support – Lanark County (CHSLC) in Perth. “They are so hard to compare. I wouldn’t say it is any easier if you know that someone is ill.”
While a terminally-ill patient may be able to put his or her affairs in order, say their goodbyes and even make peace with estranged loved ones, the emotional burden is still difficult for those left behind.
However, there is “a big difference when there is unfinished business,” when someone dies suddenly.
Take, hypothetically, she says, a man, aged 60, who is looking forward to retirement, His children are raised, and he is anticipating graduations, marriages, and children for them, a sudden death can create a lot of regrets for what could have been for the widow and the rest of the family, in the envisioned golden years that included him.
“That’s really difficult because it is the plans and dreams that are not complete,” said Bowie. “It’s all the plans that don’t get to happen.”
No matter what type of grief one goes through during the mourning period after losing a loved one, “it’s always a shock,” said Bowie.
Even if the patient has been ill for a decade, and has had three or four near misses, being rushed to the hospital in really rough shape, the fifth time, “after 10 years, you call the ambulance, and they don’t come home.”
While the patient is in the somewhat uncomfortable position of having weeks, months, even years to contemplate their impending departure from this life, the family members and loved ones face the further obstacle of what comes afterwards.
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