June 11, 2021:
About two months ago I was excited to announce that Christopher Lee had joined G. Brooks & Associates LLC to work with healthcare companies looking to thrive in the post pandemic environment. My world was rocked on Tuesday morning when I learned of Chris’ unexpected death. His obituary was posted today https://lnkd.in/e3hnAsk. I hope you can take time to read about this man who had such a positive impact on everyone around him: his family, friends, colleagues and healthcare organizations. GBA only had the honor of working with him briefly, but he has already left a huge void. We often say in the hospice community to live each day to the fullest since you never know when your last day will be. Chris’ journey ended too soon after only 50 years. But his legacy will live on forever by his example and dedication to serving those in need. Rest in peace, Chris.
The Impact of Grief & Loss in our Everyday Lives
One of my favorite commercials that aired during the big football game last month was the one where it rained lemons, referring to 2020. It was a lighthearted portrayal of what the past 12 months have felt like. Since the beginning of the pandemic, we as a collective community have shared a common thread – we have all experienced grief. Regardless of how and why, there is a palpable sense of loss. This feeling can be overwhelming, leaving us immobilized and uncertain where our life’s journey will lead. A few weeks we reached a half million deaths due to coronavirus. This week marks the one-year anniversary of the pandemic declaration and the start of stay-at-home orders trying to keep out country safe. All these milestones exacerbate this point and reminds us of what we’ve lost and gained during these twelve months.
The emotional toll during the pandemic has been significant. It’s not only the loss of people. We experience the grief of not seeing loved ones during holidays or carrying on family traditions. We grieve the loss of shared memories that accompany the inability to visit restaurants, concerts, or community events. Simple things like meeting with a friend over coffee and tea has become a ritual we long to return to.
Trying to stay connected to the world by watching news reports can also promote feelings of heartbreak and trauma. Coverage of current events may trigger memories of past losses – for instance, someone may relive the loss of their spouse when they hear a news report about a similar situation.
All of this impacts our physical and psychological health. We all react to grief and loss differently, and there are many normal reactions. After a loss we may find ourselves eating less, sleeping more, or feeling disinterested in activities. The key to self-care is remembering that as we go through a grief journey, we need to be honest with ourselves and deal with our emotions. If we don’t, we run the risk of repressing feelings that can delay the grieving process. Crying doesn’t mean we are weak or that we’re being selfish: it means that we are human.
There are ways to support grieving friends even when we can’t see them in person. Beyond a phone or Zoom call, a simple card or handwritten note lets the person know you are thinking of them. Be creative and use your talents to help those in need. We also need to recognize that we ourselves may be the person who needs help and support. One upside to the pandemic has been the increased use of telehealth for both physical and mental health services. Don’t be afraid to reach out for emotional support during this time.
Although hard to imagine, we can ultimately work through the pain and begin healing. It’s why the ‘making lemonade out of lemons’ commercial made me smile. Despite our grief, there are glimmers of hope and memories that propel us forward. During these difficult times, we can find comfort by trusting that the person we loved would want us to live our lives to the fullest in their honor. Even as we acknowledge glimmers of hope and celebrate a return to routine activities, we can’t let our guard down to support each other on our life’s journey.
Hi, I’m Gloria Brooks. Previously a hospice executive for two decades, I launched G. Brooks & Associates LLC in 2020. I’m focused on guiding healthcare organizations and their leaders to navigate strategic and service delivery challenges and develop inclusive, innovative solutions.
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