Introducing Doris Zagdanski, who works with one of the largest funeral providers in Australia. She is also the author of many books about grief.
Doris is currently giving a lot of thought to that most difficult of times – when the funeral is over.
“After the funeral we shut the door and everyone’s life is supposed to go back to normal. But it often doesn’t. That’s when grieving people often need the most support, when the busyness of the funeral is over and they’re left on their own.
“How can we make that better? It’s a challenge for all of us.”
Heard the tail-end of a report on the radio today, which said access to morphine for end of life pain relief is tightening world-wide. This, at a time when we also hear governments are concerned access to addictive drugs such as morphine is too easy. We need to get the balance right.
A World Health Organisation report of August 2017 says:
Each year, an estimated 40 million people are in need of palliative care, 78% of them people live in low- and middle-income countries.
Worldwide, only about 14% of people who need palliative care currently receive it.
Overly restrictive regulations for morphine and other essential controlled palliative medicines deny access to adequate pain relief and palliative care.
“Children can experience grief and loss from a very young age. Like adults, children have their own ways of grieving. It is important to recognise that your child has feelings of grief and to help them express those feelings.”
“Children are curious, so be prepared for regular and repeated questions. Be clear and honest with your responses.”
“Don’t pretend that you are not sad – express your feelings to your child. This can help your child feel able to express their own feelings.”
These ideas come from a great resource to help manage the grief of a child.
Troubled stories from recent deathbeds remind me of a sign at my daughters’ old school: “Beware falling pods!” The sign sat at the base of an enormous native fig tree and when those pods fell, they were like malevolent missiles. Dropping from a great height helped the pods to crack open (along with trampling by school shoes) to reveal their large seeds. Maybe families are like those trees. They grow large and strong and when an elderly parent is dying it’s a very common time for conflict and tension within families to erupt – whether over management of care, how the person’s wishes should be respected or the inheritance of important items from their life, like a ring or a chair. So it’s a time we need the “Beware falling pods!” sign. The pods hurt when they hit, but their forceful drop to shatter open, although unpleasant, is part of the life story of the tree.
“I began my grief journey eight years ago with the unexpected death of my only child and son, Carl – a beautiful young man, loved by many. His loss left me feeling bereft and fearful about what lay ahead…No day was ever the same. One thing became very clear to me, grief kept changing its form. It was kaleidoscopic in nature, unpredictably variable. During my reflections, metaphors came to me often. I wanted to share many of these – hard-won as they were.
“It could be used as a grief self-help book, as well as a resource for grief and loss counsellors to stimulate discussion and raise grief themes to assist struggling clients. “
Su-Rose’s book is published by Morning Star Publishing.