Strong emotional distress resulting from loss and grief frequently becomes a part of the caregiving experience. This paper will provide an analysis of grief-related issues facilitating or complicating the loss, as well as effective intervention strategies to assist caregivers. Also, the phenomenon of reciprocal suffering of caregivers will be considered.
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It is important that grief is not necessarily subsequent to loss. The concept of anticipatory grief refers not only to the reaction of an expected loss but also to all the losses in the experience of an illness or disability (Doka and Davidson 217). Loss may be tangible in the form of losing physical or mental abilities, or intangible relating to losing of hopes, plans, or security. Thus, the feeling of grief may be caused by numerous losses. Grief may manifest physically, emotionally, or have cognitive effects and may be expressed by a variety of behaviors (Doka and Davidson 297). It is clear that the issue of loss and grief is complex.
Support and intervention strategies are necessary for the caregiving practice. Initially, caregivers may need the validation of their grief, information on the condition of a patient, and help with responding to change in their lives (Doka and Davidson 224). Subsequently, with the approach of a patient’s death, the strategies may include dealing with affect, balancing demands, and making arrangements for death (Doka and Davidson 226).
Finally, it should be taken into account that, on the one hand, a prolonged illness may facilitate grief, giving an opportunity to finish business and demonstrate love by caregiving. On the other hand, draining effects of prolonged stress, limited support, and conflicts in relationships complicate the loss (Doka and Davidson 228). The intervention strategies in this period include the validation of loss and help with readjusting to the new life.
Another important aspect to be considered is the suffering of both the patient and the caregiver. Doka and Davidson underline “the reciprocity of suffering by patients and families, as the suffering of one amplifies the distress of the other” (249). Although caregivers’ concerns affect significantly their quality of life, it is possible to improve it with the help of hospice and palliative care (Doka and Davidson 258). It is clear that both patients and caregivers require special support.
To conclude, loss and grief are an inherent part of the caregiving experience. Efficient intervention practices may assist in dealing with grief on different stages of a disease. It is important to take into consideration the reciprocity of suffering of patients and caregivers and alleviate it through hospice and palliative care.
Doka, Kenneth J., and Joyce D. Davidson, eds. Caregiving and Loss: Family Needs, Professional Responses. Hospice Foundation of America, 2001.
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