The Hard Stuff: Blogging is interesting and enjoyable. It gives the blogger, in this case me, the opportunity to talk about a variety of things. I look for topics of interest in the field of housing and I particularly like to talk about things that are light-hearted. However, I also realize that there are times that I need to address the difficult things; the stuff that is hard to hear.
Recently a friend of Jim’s and mine fell while on vacation and broke a few ribs and had a very serious concussion. She is 88, we met her when we moved to California and therefore have only know her for few years but have grown to care about her. Our first thought was thank goodness she is ok but we began to realize she could have died. I could feel the loss. Someone I have learned to love could have died. I felt immediate sadness.
I started to think about those who I have lost in my lifetime. Some people that came to mind were people I met through my work in housing.
Once I started thinking about it, a few people quickly came to mind. The tiny lady I did the move-in for. She couldn’t speak English but we did ok, and her dog was adorable. The gentleman who was the chair of a committee I was on; his death was sudden. The lady who was a school teacher and proud of it. Her stories were wonderful. I could go on and on. Just as you could go on and on.
We have all lost someone in our long or short careers in housing. Each person touched us in some way even those we didn’t know well or didn’t always agree with.
Death affects everyone in the apartment building; staff, other tenants. Even the mail carrier and delivery person.
Your tenant could have lost a good friend. He or she could be wondering “is it going to be me next”. Or saying to themselves “I feel so alone”.
We also need to be sensitive to our staff. Staff gets close to tenants and feels a loss when a tenant dies.
Some practical things to think about when a tenant dies:
- Don’t act like you don’t care
- Understand that the other tenants and staff may be upset
- You may be a good listener but are you qualified to answer questions that come up during times like these
- See if you can find a qualified organization to help you out. All hospice programs offer counseling who can provide support to the entire building
- Do not bring your personal religious beliefs into the picture. Although they may be very important to you they may not be important to others
- Recognize that grief is unique to all of us
- Communicate with sensitivity
- Have a memorial services in the building it will help everyone with closure
And mangers don’t forget to take care of yourself. Sometimes we get busy taking care the tenants and the other staff members, but you too have just lost someone. Take the time to talk to someone, be a part of the memorial service. Sit with your staff and tenants and reminisce about the tenant.
Take some time to think about the last time one of your tenants died. How did you handle it, would you have done something different? Don’t be hard on yourself. Also don’t hesitate to talk to one of your peers who has experienced deaths in their apartments. It is always nice to have someone to talk to about this issue or any other issue as well.
Have a great day!