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When a Resident Passes Away

One of the hardest parts of being an activities director in independent living is the loss of a resident who you are close to. I know that you have experienced this too, if you have been in the business for very long. After 20 plus years, it has become easier, but I learned this week that it is still something that I think about and try to come to terms with. I use to think that if I did not take the time to really get to know a resident, then when they passed away, that it would not hurt me so badly.
What I've learned lately are these two important lessons. The first was how losing a spouse effects the surviving spouse or partner. I learned this while going through a two-year period with my in-laws. It is totally different than what I thought was going on with my residents when one was sick. Because I would only see the healthy spouse, it was easy to block out what was happening behind the closed doors of their apartment. Now, I know better (but I'm sure that it is not the same as when it is your spouse of 60 plus years!)  and I feel more capable of offering support and comfort to the resident caring for their partner. And the second lesson is something that is obvious, but yet, until someone said it to me this past week, was not really in my mind. If you don't get to know a resident well enough to mourn their loss when they are gone, you might have missed out on a great opportunity to know a wonderful person, learn a life-lesson, or have an enjoyable moment with them. As I said, this is one of the hardest parts of the job. I sure would love to hear how you manage this element of the job.

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