As a hospice volunteer chaplain, not only have hospice patients taught me how to die with grace and dignity, but hospice has also taught me how to live after the death of my own loved one, my daughter Kam.  Undoubtedly, her death at forty was the most difficult event of my life.  The bereavement services offered by the Friends of Hospice were there for me. To echo an old commercial, I became a client. During the six weekly meetings I sat with others facing their own loss.  I had the opportunity to face up to my own loss and to find the strength to move on in life.

What I learned is that we can move beyond our grief.  But to do so it is critically important that we fully grieve the death of those we love, knowing that each of us needs to grieve in our own way. Some prefer to face the loss alone while others prefer to be surrounded by those they trust and who share their grief with them.

But however we choose to grieve there are always choices to be made. When someone we love is gone, we can remain ensnared in our loss, or we can choose the freedom of being thankful that our loved one had been an important part of our life. We can use our energy hoping that our loved one will return to us, or we can focus on all the blessings that our loved one has left in her wake.

We can be most aware of the hole that the loss has left in our lives, while still choosing to remember the love we were privileged to share with him or her. We can turn our backs on our tomorrows, choosing to live only in our yesterdays, or we can happily face our tomorrows because of all of yesterday’s joys.

Finally, we can choose to live on as our loved one would have us live: We can smile. We can open our eyes to life. We can love as we have been loved. We can take our next step in life’s journey.

Editor’s Note:  Community grief support is part of the Friends of Hospice mission. Anyone grieving over a loss, whether on hospice or not, is welcome. People experience grief as a natural reaction to loss; yet each of us does so in our own unique way. These support groups are offered free of charge throughout the year in both Pullman and Colfax.  Please check our website for the latest information:  http://friendsofhospice.net/grief-support

Guest blog by:

Bob Ingalls
Friends of Hospice
Board President
and Hospice Volunteer