(T.A) Peer Response one
Death of a parent, sibling, spouse, child(ren) is a tragic event that occurs in our lives, as it is a part of life’s cycle. Though death can occur at any point in the life cycle, the proportion of individuals who died in late adulthood is much greater than at any other time (Broderick & Blewitt, 2015). For many, the consequences of death have a negative impact on their daily lives. In the case study, Victor’s death has put his wife and children in a position they don’t want to be in and they are suffering from it. Although many people experience psychological and physical symptoms following the death of a significant person, particularly of a spouse or child, some individuals appear to react to such losses more strongly than others (Umberson & Chen, 1994).
Factors Driving Reaction
Victor was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and was in and out of the hospital for treatments. However, his condition worsened causing him to have constant care and later died. Since the death of their husband/father, there has been some dysfunction in the family. The factors driving Isabelle’s reaction to Victor’s death is the fact that she will not be able to see him again and leaving her all alone. Currently, 24% of Americans over 65 are widowed and a full third of all older adults live alone (Lopez, Ramos & Kim, 2018). Isabelle is seeking comfort and security from her children. However, her children have their own lives, therefore, is contemplating asking her son Paul to let her move in with his family (Broderick & Blewit, 2015). She doesn’t want to be alone anymore because she is unable to concentrate on anything she is doing.
Paul who is the oldest has the responsibility to take care of his family. The factor driving Paul’s reaction to his dad’s death is that he is too overwhelmed with other things such as his business and his own family. He doesn’t have the time to take a breath because he has been busy a lot lately. Yes, his father dies but, I think that reality hasn’t quite sunk in yet. Once he realizes that his father is not there, it will hit him. Right now, his mind is somewhere else. Sophia wants to believe that her mother is still the same vibrant person she has always known, so she discounts the sadness (Broderick & Blewitt, 2015). The factor driving Sophia’s reaction to her father’s death is that she accepts it. He was fighting a battle with cancer and unfortunately, cancer won. The factor driving Lenore’s reaction is the same as Sophia’s. However, Lenore avoids her mother’s phone call because she doesn’t want to hear the sadness in her mother’s voice and the troubles, she is facing each day living without her husband. The difficulties in communication regarding loss are often compounded by efforts among family members to protect each other from unpleasantness or pain (Safonte-Strumolo, & Dunn, 2000). With Lenore, it seems that she too has accepted her father’s death. Both her and Sophia seem to be handling the situation very well except when it comes to their brother Joseph. During their father’s stay in the hospital, their mother specifically told the doctor that she did not want to have him revived because that was his wishes. However, since it wasn’t on paper it didn’t matter so Joseph and his uncle told the doctor to do what it takes to keep their father/brother alive. So, they inserted a ventilator. This caused a lot of tension amongst Sophia, Lenore, and Joseph. Since then the girls have not spoken to Joseph. As for Joseph, he seems to be having difficulties coming to terms with what happened. It seems he is feeling some guilt for how he handled the situation that brought on unnecessary suffering to his father.
Two healthy coping strategies
For families who have had a death in the family, they can go through a number of emotions. As the manifestation of their mourning, they may lose interest in the world, prefer to isolate themselves from others, dwell on thoughts of the deceased, and suffer from depression (Broderick & Blewitt, 2015). Individuals cope with death in their own way, however, having healthy strategies will help the family. Many Italian Americans have tended to turn to the family for help in solving problems and not toward available mental health services (Safonte-Strumolo, & Dunn, 2000). Therefore, it is important to take into consideration the types of coping strategies that are being used. Therapists, regardless of their own cultural background, should constantly find ways to reinforce a family’s problem-solving abilities (Safonte-Strumolo, & Dunn, 2000). Another strategy is having Isabelle and the children go to the cemetery on a particular day of each month. Although this might be difficult for them, they were reassured that they could draw extra strength from each other, thus reinforcing the value of family unity and support (Safonte-Strumolo, & Dunn, 2000). After all Italian-American families are all about supporting the family.
Umberson, D., & Chen, M. D. (1994). Effects of a Parent’s Death on Adult Children: Relationship Salience and Reaction to Loss. American Sociological Review, 59(1), 152–168. https://doi-org.ezp.waldenulibrary.org/10.2307/2096138
Broderick, P. C., & Blewitt, P. (2015). Gains and Losses in Late Adulthood. The life span: Human development for helping professionals (4th ed.) (pp. 556-596). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education.
Safonte-Strumolo, N., & Dunn, A. B. (2000). Consideration of Cultural and Relational Issues in Bereavement: The Case of an Italian American Family. The Family Journal, 8(4), 334–340. https://doi.org/10.1177/1066480700084002
Lopez, F. G., Ramos, K., & Kim, M. (2018). Development and initial validation of a measure of attachment security in late adulthood. Psychological Assessment, 30(9), 1214–1225. https://doi-org.ezp.waldenulibrary.org/10.1037/pas0000568
(C.R) Peer Response Two
Losing a loved one is one of the hardest things to deal with; even when one is diagnosed with a terminal illness, the sadness that comes with the loss of a loved one is something that is undeniably painful. Sometimes, the grief of losing someone is too much to handle on your own and one might seek out counseling as a way to learn to cope. According to Broderick & Blewitt (2015), helping professionals should be knowledgeable in the area of grief and be able to recognize that grief comes in many forms and expressions of mourning can vary between cultures.
Reaction to Terminal Illness and Death
Each member of Victor’s family is dealing with his death in different ways, which is to be expected. Unfortunately, Victor’s wife, Isabelle, is having the most difficult time coping with the loss of her beloved husband (Broderick & Blewitt, 2015). Isabelle had to leave her job at a department store because she had a hard time concentrating while on the clock; furthermore, Isabelle is contemplating asking Paul, her eldest son, if she can move in with his family because living alone is too much to bear (Broderick & Blewitt, 2015). It appears that Isabelle is experiencing depression due to Victor’s death; she has overwhelming feelings that she is at the end of her life and will be like the other lonely widows she knows (Broderick & Blewitt, 2015). Isabelle could benefit from Behavioral Therapy for Depression which would allow her to improve her mood by engaging in “mood-enhancing experiences” (Broderick & Blewitt, 2015).
Unfortunately, the children’s relationships with one another have been negatively impacted by their father’s death (Broderick & Blewitt, 2015). Paul is feeling overwhelmed by the responsibilities that seem to be falling on him because he is the oldest of the children; the daughters are not speaking to their brother Joseph, or his wife; in addition, Victor’s death is causing strain on Joseph’s marriage because his wife feels that he has grieved enough and they need to move on with their life (Broderick & Blewitt, 2015). Lenore avoids talking to her mother because she is tired of hearing the same things over and over; Sophia tries to be there for her mother, but it saddens her to hear her mother constantly reminiscing on her father (Broderick & Blewitt, 2015). The children are all experiencing the grief of their father in different ways. For example, Lenore and Sophia are displaying anger and avoidance toward Joseph because they did not agree with the final decisions made about Victor’s care (Broderick & Blewitt, 2015). Lenore is also avoiding talking to her mother, and although Sophia is trying to stay connected to her mother, she is experiencing trouble (Broderick & Blewitt, 2015).
Isabelle and each of the children are experiencing and handling the death of Victor in different ways. One reason the family is potentially at odds right now surrounds the idea of end-of-life care; the idea of end-of-life care includes 11 principles that are related to the responsibilities of those that provide end-of-life care to patients and the patients’ family (Broderick & Blewitt, 2015). The argument while Victor was still alive was whether or not to take the necessary measures to save his life; this relates to the core principle of “being sensitive and respectful of the patient’s and family’s wishes” (Broderick & Blewitt, 2015). The family was divided in this decision and it created tension within the family that still has not been addressed.
Healthy Coping Skills
Coping with the loss of a loved one is likely one of the hardest things that individuals can experience (APA, 2019). According to the APA (2019), one healthy way to cope with the death of a loved one is to talk about the loss; by talking about the loss you are refraining from avoiding the reality of the situation and this is a way to let your friends and family understand what you are going through. We know that talk therapy is very effective in coping with negative situations and this is a time when an individual could greatly benefit from talking. In addition, talking about your feelings will allow you to accept your feelings about the loss of your loved one and will provide a healthy outlet for all of the emotions that result from such an experience. A second healthy coping skill that can be utilized after the death of a loved one is to remember and celebrate their life and time on Earth (APA, 2019). Some examples of celebrating their life include donating to a charity they felt passionate about, framing pictures of good memories with the loved one, or even passing on the loved one’s name to a new member of the family (APA, 2019). If the bereavement process is too much to handle on your own, or the coping strategies mentioned above to not help, it might be necessary to inquire about grief counseling. Grief counseling can be done in a group setting or in a one-on-one session in which a trained mental health professional helps an individual work through their grief related to the loss of a loved one (Psychology Today, 2019).
Dealing with the loss of a loved one is one of the most painful experiences that one can go through. It is something that never gets easier, no matter how many loved ones you lose. Everyone copes with this differently, and each person goes through the stages of grief in different ways. Although culture and religion play a role in the process of grief some of the best ways to work through these emotions related to loss is to employ healthy coping strategies and to allow yourself to work through your emotions. As we know, keeping emotions bottled up is not a healthy way to cope and can have a negative impact on an individual.
American Psychological Association. (2019). Grief: Coping with the loss of your loved one. Retrieved from https://www.apa.org/helpcenter/grief
Broderick, P. C., & Blewitt, P. (2015). The life span: Human development for helping professionals (4th ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education.
Psychology Today. (2019). Bereavement. Retrieved from https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/conditions/bereavement