by Elizabeth Wishert, LBSW
No day is ever the same in the life of a hospice social worker. Each day is as different
as our patients and families and the needs they each have.
My day twists and turns depending on what my patients and families require. Each day is filled with visits, emotional support, active listening, validating feelings of loss, and normalizing the grief progress. I coordinate patient needs with other HBV team members and assure our patients autonomy is upheld. During visits we address fears, anxieties, coping, and the day to day living that doesn’t stop when your loved one is dying. I discuss referrals for possible community resources to assure our patients daily needs are met. I help families share their life stories and facilitate family meetings. I write letters for work, school, and travel.
I facilitate those difficult conversations that no one ever wants to
discuss. Some of the difficult topics to discuss include:
* What caregivers will you need?
* What resources can I help you find? (food pantry, 211, utility bill assistance)
* Do you want CPR?
* Do you have advanced directives?
* Have you finalized or have you begun thinking about funeral arrangements?
* What life will be like after your loved one dies?
* Will you have enough income after the loss of your loved one?
For my patients that are able to, we complete legacy work and discuss all the possible ways they can be remembered. Most days there are lots of hugs, hand squeezes, laughter, and even tears.
Most of all I want our families to know that there is someone who is there for them, to listen, advocate, to care, support, and counsel. It is an honor to be allowed into their lives during one of the most sacred times of their life. The ancient Egyptians believed that to speak the name of the dead was to make them live again. There isn’t a day that goes by that I do not think of all of the patients I have been blessed to meet and walk along their journey with.