No Disclosure = Frozen Grief
Imagine losing someone important to you...a family member, or a close friend. Then imagine not knowing why this person died, including the unanswered question "Could this death have been prevented?"
Most counselors and pastors tell us that average people go through five "classic" stages of grief: Denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. It's usually not a linear path...one day you might be "great" and happy, and the next day back at denial or anger. However, most folks work their way through the grief stages and eventually arrive at a new normal. You will always miss and love your departed family member or friend, but you are able to move forward with your life. Thoughts of the deceased that initially brought tears and sadness will eventually bring smiles and laughter.
Unfortunately, in my 12+ years of doing this work, I have met countless souls who are frozen or trapped in their grief. Many of these people are forever stuck at the anger stage because they received no answers, information, or accountability following a death due to questionable circumstances in an acute or long-term care setting. It is impossible for these folks to complete the grief process because they don't know what happened back at "X." And in their unrelenting search for the truth, these poor people often drive away family, friends, and co-workers. Many descend into mental illness. It's wicked.
When adverse event happens everyone immediately thinks of the life that was damaged or lost. We also need to be mindful of the other lives that will be damaged unless the truth is shared. Disclosure programs are how we minimize the damage post-event, and allow grieving families to find a new and healthy normal.
What spurred me to write this column was a recent conversation with a family who received the truth following a death involving medical errors in a hospital. I could literally hear the relief in their voices. Question: Is your hospital or nursing home capable of doing the same for your families? If not, give me a call at 618-559-8168 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Doug Wojcieszak, Founder