Honoring the lion tamers
by Andrea Powell, HPCCR Marketing Manager
They say that March comes in like a lion and goes out like a lamb. It’s a saying that’s typically used for weather. But the more I think about it, the more I think that this saying can also be applied to attitudes towards death. And hospice as well.
Just hear me out on this. When someone we deeply cherish is dying, we are angry. Furious. It’s the kind of red-hot ire that keeps our sorrow and grief at bay. The anger and unfairness whirls around, giving us strength, allowing us to yell and growl and scratch and snarl (and tap into the raging lion at our core). As long as we’re angry, we don’t have to think about what’s really happening. As long as we’re angry, we don’t have to succumb to the grief.
Eventually, though, we move toward acceptance (tapping into a more lamb-like nature that resides somewhere deep down). We see the exhaustion and pain on the face of that person we love so much. We can’t take it; it breaks our heart even further. Because we don’t want them to feel that way anymore. We want relief — for them and for us.
So we finally do what’s right. We give them the help that they need. That they deserve. We call hospice.
And you know who comes then? To further soothe the residual anger and to help deal with the overwhelming grief? The social worker. That’s who.
March is National Social Worker Month. It takes an entire month to appreciate our social workers because they do so much. A hospice social worker helps the patient and the family with documenting end-of-life wishes. The social worker helps plan the funeral that is on the horizon. She* helps the family navigate the often confusing worlds of Medicare and insurance. She talks to all the family members, gauging their emotional well-being and finding other outlets of support that may be needed. She finds ways to maneuver around sticky situations or problems — communicating with far away relatives or solving transportation needs. The hospice social worker is pretty much a jack of all trades.
But, if you think about it, she’s kind of a lion tamer as well. She’s the one who deals with the loved ones who are still angry at life and illness and the situation that was thrust on them that they never asked for. She helps them make sense of their emotions and brings them around to the fact that they’ve made an excellent decision for the person they love so much. She helps them realize how wonderful hospice is. She reduces the fierceness of the lion; she brings out the peace of the lamb.
So this month we give a heartfelt “thank you” to social workers everywhere and specifically to our social workers at HPCCR. We appreciate everything you do (and have done) for our patients and their families. Especially those lions you turned into lambs.
* We absolutely acknowledge that there are plenty of men who are amazing social workers too. For ease of writing, however, we just went with “she”. No particular reason. Just trying to avoid too many “he / she” references.
advance directives, advocacy, awareness, end of life, hospice, spiritual care
This entry was posted on March 2, 2016 at 11:44 am and is filed under advance directives, advocacy, awareness, end of life, hospice, spiritual care. You can subscribe via RSS 2.0 feed to this post's comments.comment below, or link to this permanent URL from your own site.