All her life, Gloria* drew enormous strength from her mother, who died shortly after her 80th birthday. “She taught me how to be loving and caring and noble,” says Gloria. “But when she passed away, I realized that she forgot to teach me how to live without her.” When Rocio Ruiz, a bereavement services intern with VNSNY Hospice and Palliative Care, reached out to Gloria after her mother’s passing, Gloria welcomed the chance to talk with someone who understood what she was going through.
Gloria’s reaction was not unusual—which is why, when a loved one dies in hospice care, grief support services are available to family members for one year plus one month after the death, to provide support for all of that first year’s milestones, including the anniversary of death. In monthly phone conversations as well as a bereavement support group, Gloria and Rocio discussed how everyone grieves in their own way—a realization that brought Gloria great relief. “I was feeling guilty that I was not hysterically crying all the time, and Rocio taught me that it’s okay to feel at peace.”
Indeed, Gloria does feel at peace. Thanks to VNSNY, she was able to honor her mother’s wish to spend her final days in the home they shared, buoyed by a supportive team of nurses, social workers, and spiritual care counselors. “When my mother first became ill, I told her, ‘I don’t know how to cure you. The only thing I can do is promise that I will be with you until you take your last breath,’” says Gloria. “And with VNSNY’s help, I was able to.”
Gloria knows that her mother, too, felt peace at her death. “When she took her final breath, I saw a little tear,” Gloria recalls. “That was her saying, ‘So long, I’ll see you again.’ She knew I was there. I feel so grateful to VNSNY for helping to make that possible.”
* The family member’s name has been changed for privacy.
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