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Stories on Grief and End of Life Issues

People with low health literacy are more likely than those with high health literacy to seek aggressive, curative treatment at the end of life instead of hospice care, researchers reported in the American Journal of Hospice & Palliative Medicine. People who do not understand their own health condition or treatment options, or who do not understand how palliative and hospice care work, may not be able to make informed decisions about end-of-life care, the researchers found. Read more here.

"End of life" or "dying" should be considered a new life-course stage, says Deborah Carr, professor and chair of the sociology department at Boston University, as the end-of-life period is now longer historically than ever before. The end-of-life stage differs from "old age" as 25% of all people are under age 65 when they die, and there are particular developmental tasks needed to ensure smooth transitions. Read more here.

A grief shrine or memorial altar can honor a loved one after death, especially during the isolation of COVID-19. Rachel Jones offers ideas for creating, decorating and placing a memorial and suggests including a farewell letter or a list of meaningful sayings or phrases. Read more here.

A daughter's care for her father during his illness and the discussions they had when she saw he was entering the early phase of dying helped him accept hospice and sign a do-not resuscitate form. He would have benefited from hospice much earlier, but even a few days of care from hospice helped guide a peaceful death. Learn more here. Learn more here.

The death of a sibling is even more difficult for children during the pandemic, so a hospice center in the Orlando, Fla., area has expanded its bereavement counseling program that allows children to express themselves through art, play and other methods. "Not only are these kids struggling with grief after losing a loved one, they're struggling with transitioning to this new virtual world and really grieving the life that was prior to wearing masks and social distancing," says licensed clinical social worker Kristen Nardolillo. Learn more here.

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