Most Popular Choices
Share on Facebook 67 Printer Friendly Page More Sharing
Life Arts    H4'ed 8/4/15

Hospice: Not Just for Patients Anymore

By       (Page 1 of 4 pages)   No comments, 6 series
Follow Me on Twitter     Message Joan Brunwasser
Become a Fan
  (89 fans)

Heather Kroski
Heather Kroski
(Image by Courtesy of Midwest CareCenter)
  Details   DMCA

This is the second installment in my series on hospice care. See the first installment here.

Before my mother was in hospice, I thought it was basically about keeping the patient comfortable. Period. I've learned it's a whole lot more.

My guest today is Heather Kroski, social worker at Midwest Palliative & Hospice CareCenter.

JB: Welcome to OpEdNews, Heather. Tell us a bit about your job, please.

HK: As a social worker, I provide educational and emotional support to patients, family, caregivers, and often staff at facilities. I provide anticipatory grief around end of life issues and assist families at time of death. As social workers, we are there to advocate for patients and family members. These are my primary responsibilities. But we often wear many hats and find ourselves doing unexpected little things in the moment. I have found myself helping someone carry boxes as they pack up their loved one's belongings or helping someone make stew for their loved one because, in that moment, they needed someone next to them. When I walk into a patient's room or walk in to meet a family, whether for the first time or not, I am there to meet them where they are at, in whatever coping stage that may be. More often than not, I sit with people and listen. Sometimes, that's what people need the most--someone to listen.

JB: How do you do it? I remember your coming to my mother's within moments of her death. I had never met you before and yet you were such a strong, low-key presence at an awful time. Isn't it incredibly emotionally taxing for you?

HK: I remember coming to your mother's house. Walking in did not seem awful to me. Your mother seemed so peaceful and the room was calm and still. While there was much sorrow, I could also feel all the love you, your daughter, and your mom's caregiver had for each other and the life your mom had led. It was an emotional moment that I had the honor of being present at. I am happy to hear that my presence was strong yet low key. I never want to be intrusive in these moments in families' lives.

It can be taxing at times. While present at a death, my job is to be calm and provide comfort while allowing families to grieve in their own way. Self care is also important as a social worker. Being able to share and process my reactions with a trusted colleague after a visit or death can make a difference. It also does not hurt to allow myself time to do something for myself, like dance, which is something I love to do. In addition, it helps me to spend time with my own family, playing with my two young boys and husband. Like everybody, I need to give myself permission to accept what I just did and just experienced with each family as a moment in their lives. It's just a moment. I hope it's a moment during which I am helpful. But it is their moment. It's not about me. It's about them. When I go into a house, it's not about what my goals or needs are in any way. It's about what they want and need and hope for.

JB: I'm glad you know how to take care of yourself. How long have you been doing hospice care, Heather? And how did you get into it in the first place?

HK: Well. most of the time I take care of myself. As most of us know, a good work-life balance can be hard to manage successfully.

Before getting a masters in social work, I was a professional dancer. I have been dancing since I was a young girl and still do. It is a passion that runs deep within me. I do not think I will ever be able to stop dancing. However, there was something missing for me in my life. I was starting a family and no longer wanted to feel that I had to compete for a career as a performer. So, I went back to school to become a social worker to work in the field of hospice care. Yes, I went into social work knowing that I wanted to work in death and dying. It was a career change, a big career change.

I am often asked the question: why do you this? Or how can you do this? When I was in my late twenties, my husband passed away. He received hospice care for his final two months. I remember clearly after he passed, myself and many other family members were gathered around his bed. The hospice nurse arrived to assist us. As we were all crying and holding hands, I looked up at the nurse and saw her smiling. It wasn't a big smile but, a peaceful smile. I remember thinking, how can she do this? Since then, I became interested in how people process and cope with death. I am not sure if having gone through such a personal loss has given me a certain strength to be present with others that are going through the process of losing someone, but I do try to be present with others during their experiences.

Next Page  1  |  2  |  3  |  4

(Note: You can view every article as one long page if you sign up as an Advocate Member, or higher).

Rate It | View Ratings

Joan Brunwasser Social Media Pages: Facebook page url on login Profile not filled in       Twitter page url on login Profile not filled in       Linkedin page url on login Profile not filled in       Instagram page url on login Profile not filled in

Joan Brunwasser is a co-founder of Citizens for Election Reform (CER) which since 2005 existed for the sole purpose of raising the public awareness of the critical need for election reform. Our goal: to restore fair, accurate, transparent, secure elections where votes are cast in private and counted in public. Because the problems with electronic (computerized) voting systems include a lack of (more...)

Go To Commenting
The views expressed herein are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of this website or its editors.
Follow Me on Twitter     Writers Guidelines

Contact AuthorContact Author Contact EditorContact Editor Author PageView Authors' Articles
Support OpEdNews

OpEdNews depends upon can't survive without your help.

If you value this article and the work of OpEdNews, please either Donate or Purchase a premium membership.

If you've enjoyed this, sign up for our daily or weekly newsletter to get lots of great progressive content.
Daily Weekly     OpEd News Newsletter
   (Opens new browser window)

Other Series: View All 20 Articles in "health care"

Other Series: View All 46 Articles in "Illness"

Other Series: View All 75 Articles in "positivity"

Most Popular Articles by this Author:     (View All Most Popular Articles by this Author)

Interview with Dr. Margaret Flowers, Arrested Tuesday at Senate Roundtable on Health Care

Renowned Stanford Psychologist Carol Dweck on "Mindset: The New Psychology of Success"

Howard Zinn on "The People Speak," the Supreme Court and Haiti

Snopes confirms danger of Straight Ticket Voting (STV)

Fed Up With Corporate Tax Dodgers? Check Out!

Literary Agent Shares Trade Secrets With New Writers

To View Comments or Join the Conversation:

Tell A Friend