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Supporting Families Facing Loss: Anticipatory Grief Elizabeth A. Keene VP, Mission Effectiveness St. Mary’s Health System Lewiston, Maine

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Presentation on theme: "Supporting Families Facing Loss: Anticipatory Grief Elizabeth A. Keene VP, Mission Effectiveness St. Mary’s Health System Lewiston, Maine"— Presentation transcript:

1 Supporting Families Facing Loss: Anticipatory Grief Elizabeth A. Keene VP, Mission Effectiveness St. Mary’s Health System Lewiston, Maine

2 Definition of Terms Loss=Change=Grief Grief-the physical, psychological, spiritual, cognitive and behavioral responses to the (perceived) threat of a loss Mourning-the outward expression of grief Bereavement-the state of having suffered a loss

3 Anticipatory Grief (aka Anticipatory Mourning, Preparatory Grief) Response to awareness of a life-threatening or terminal illness in oneself or a significant other and the recognition of associated losses Rando, TA, ed. (2000) Clinical Dimensions of Anticipatory Mourning.

4 Anticipatory Grief Potential losses associated with illness: Loss of bodily function Loss of hopes, dreams Loss of employment/finances Loss of independence/control Loss of feeling of self-worth Loss of cognitive function Loss of role in family

5 Illness Trajectories

6 Cure /Life-prolonging Intent Palliative/ Comfort Intent Bereavement DEATHDEATH EVOLVING MODEL OF PALLIATIVE CARE

7 Mike Harlos MD, CCFP, FCFP Professor and Section Head, Palliative Medicine, University of Manitoba Medical Director, WRHA Palliative Care Medical Director, Pediatric Symptom Management Service

8 Anticipatory Grief Forewarning is not a sufficient condition for realistic anticipation! Misinterpretation- “hydrological theory of grief” Fulton, R. (2003) Anticipatory mourning: a critique of the concept. Mortality.

9 Supporting Families Facing Loss EASE Model Educate Assess Support Explore Needs/Strengths Carrington, NA, Bogetz, JF. (2004) “Normal grief and bereavement: letters from home,” Journal of Palliative Medicine. 7:

10 The EASE Model: Educate Normalize grief as a natural response to loss Identify the range of typical responses Allow for individual differences

11 The EASE Model: Assess Physical health Emotional/mental health Spiritual needs/strengths Behavioral/social changes Loss history Risk for complicated grief

12 Assess What concerns you most right now? What brings you comfort? What does your experience look and feel like? With whom do you talk? What behavior changes are you seeing in your children?

13 Assess Emotional/Mental Health –History of mental health issues –Common response: inability to concentrate and/or forgetfulness (“I feel like I’m going crazy!”) –“Roller coaster” of emotions Hall, M and Irwin, M. (2001) “Physiological indices of function in bereavement” in Stroebe, MS et al. Handbook of Bereavement Research.

14 Assess Spiritual Needs/Strengths –Religious or theological Providence, fate, God’s will Afterlife Suffering as redemptive Support of religious community –Existential Meaning Purpose

15 Assess Behavioral/Social Changes –Family –Financial status/employment –Impact on children in the family Loss History –Previous losses, including non-death–related –Recent secondary losses (financial, home) –Disenfranchised (socially taboo) losses –Cumulative losses –Inability to grieve prior losses

16 Assessing for Risks of Complicated Grief Predictors –Violence of the death –Ability to make sense of the death (Post-death assessment): Length of time that symptoms have persisted Extent of interference in daily life –Extreme isolation –Abrupt major lifestyle changes Intensity of symptoms –Suicidal ideation –Severe depression

17 The EASE Model: Support Be present; be available Communication –Need for short, frequent conversations –Isolated incidents long remembered –Realistic life expectancy

18 The EASE Model: Support Coping –Problem-focused coping and positive reappraisal most effective strategies in maintaining positive affect Folkman, S. (2001) “Revised coping theory and the process of bereavement,” in Stroebe, MS et al. Handbook of Bereavement Research. Decision-making –Goals of care Life review/legacy

19 The EASE Model: Explore Needs and Strengths Perception of support –Family –Community Communication Preference Education Preference Changes over time

20 Reflections by Mrs. Rose McCloskey


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