Dr. Lani Leary was invited to share knowledge about grief and its impact on lives with Hospice of Hilo staff.
“Even though we face mortality often in our daily work, it was both comforting and empowering for us to learn ways to process the many emotions encountered when helping patients and families in the community,” said Hospice of Hilo CEO Brenda S. Ho.
Leary brought with her more than 25 years of experience in psychotherapy within a myriad health care environments — intensive care units in hospitals, hospices and private practice. She served as the director of the mental health services at an AIDS clinic, as a professor of Death Studies at George Mason University and as a researcher at the National Cancer Institute of the National Institute of Health.
“To me, the most important questions are ‘How much time did you have to process the possible death of your loved one? What does the death mean to you?’ and ‘What do you think this death means about you?’” Leary said. “Oftentimes, the answers to these questions will dictate how intense and complicated the grief will be. Losing someone suddenly can be much more traumatic, not more significant but more traumatic, than from terminal illness where you have more time to interact and process the possibility of death with your loved one.”
She described the symptoms the body, mind and spirit are trying to show as stresses of grief. She also shared ways in which to embrace the grief and learn to cope with missing a loved one.
“Grief never goes away. Missing someone never goes away. But that is our mind’s way of respecting and cherishing the memory of our loved one. What we can do is learn to accept that the individual is gone and understand the moments of sadness that ebb and flow are perfectly normal; that we can continue with our lives.”
“Even though we work with the subject every single day doesn’t mean we do not need guidance, support and help,” said Hospice of Hilo Facility Liaison Katy Rozier.
Leary is the author of “Healing Hands,” anaudio tape about therapeutic touch and complimentary approaches to pain management. She recently released her new book, “No One Has To Die Alone.” More information about her can be found at www.drlanileary.com.