The Inescapable Outcome
Death is the inevitable result of life – and one of the most traumatic and stressful transitions for you and your family. Whether you’re dealing with a past death, or preparing for a coming death, sometimes it’s best done with support and help from professional counselors.
Death Oriented Counseling
- Grief counselors.
- Pre-death counseling.
- Hospice counseling.
Coping with Loss
For many, the first time counseling will come up in regards to death is after a death has occurred, and grief counseling is recommended. This vastly undervalues the extent of services grief counselors can provide. These professionals focus on loss-related counseling: from the grief of an amputee coming to terms with a physical, practical and emotional loss, to counseling for the middle-aged coming to terms with loss of youth, to helping prepared the dying for their own death, grief counselors offer support and healing in many ways. Death, however, as the greatest loss, is likely to remain the most recognized area of service grief counselors provide.
Preparing for Loss
Almost unknown in our death-defying culture is the profession of the pre-death counselor. Yet pre-death counseling can help all involved in transcendent, emotional ways, and in gritty, practical ways. A capable pre-death counselor is educated in helping an individual and those around them prepare for death emotionally, and logistically. As such they can be turned to for information about patients’ rights, hospice care, termination of treatments, funeral and mortician services. Many can help find a lawyer for the preparation of a complex will, care providers to help the dying and their families cope with practical needs at a tempestuous time, and can help all involved approach a coming death with grace, love and dignity.
Hospice and Hospital Death Counseling
Many hospices and hospitals also provide death counseling and grief counseling. Trained in much the same way as the above professionals, they can also offer specific knowledge of their own instruction, its services, the legal and physical limits that restrict an organization’s options, and the best ways to deal with the upcoming death in regards to the necessary actions and obligations of the institution. Few can better help an individual or family better navigate the often complex maze of legal, ethical, professional and personal interactions that take place at the time of death.
Preparing for Death
Refusing to prepare for death, on a medical, emotional, familial or legal level, often guarantees that death will be even more traumatic and disruptive than it is by necessity. A family that’s been well prepared, and already shared love and mourning with a dying member, while working out the practical elements of life that must follow death, are better ready to move forward with courage and dignity than those who have been denied the emotional and practical help that would allow a smooth transition.
Death is hard work: for the dying and for those who survive. It is emotionally costly, legally complex, a practical challenge in social and physical terms, and often a period of financial uncertainty. Lack of preparation is no more desirable at death than at birth, or during any other great and momentous time in the arc of life. Don’t deny yourself and others the calm and orderly services of those trained to help.
In many instances, the medical and hospice organizations dealt with can offer sound, reliable referrals for all forms of death-related counseling. In situations where this doesn’t hold true, however, others can provide information as well as referrals. Almost all religious groups offer grief counseling, offer referrals to professional specialists, or offer both. In some instances, mortuaries and crematoriums also maintain professional ties with grief counselors, so that they can refer services as a courtesy to the families of the deceased. State and county family services, police departments, and in many instances schools, colleges, and universities offer referrals, also.
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