“I saw with her, and when she held my hand she said, “You have such warm hands. I hope you are going to be with me when I get colder and colder.” She smiled knowingly. She knew and I knew that at this moment she had dropped her denial. She was able to think about talk about her own death and she asked for just a little comfort of companionship and a final stage without too much hunger.”
So after I picked the title, I wondered, which “D-word” was I referring to… death or denial.
And I wonder why we have to have things our way? Well, I know why… I guess I just wonder why we have to make people die the way we want them to. . .
As an end-of-life care professional, I have preached to not use euphemisms and to say the words dying, dead, death, cancer, AIDS, etc. but whose issue is that? If it is an adult, do we really have the right to rob someone of the ways they are trying to take care of themselves on their journey?
Tonight I am thinking about this the way I am about the article I wrote not too long ago entitled stop all the self-help. Is there a subtle aggression when we tell people how to do things like their dying or healing and is this an area that we need to have self-compassion and compassion for those we are with?
I think it’s an interesting idea.
When I hear conversations about someone I know with dementia, I often think, who are we to try to pull them back into our reality and tell them their world-view is wrong?
Maybe as helping professionals, loved ones, caregivers, etc we should look at those we are with in the same manner.
What does it do for us to have some not be “in denial” of a situation like their dying?
Don’t we know that on some level, whatever level that is, the person who has an illness and is dying almost always knows before the doctor’s appointment, before the lab results, what is going on..
And of course, there is the whole balance between “denial” and “hope”… and I am sure that will be a post for the future.
But for now, can we practice some acceptance?
Elisabeth’s patient knew that the end was coming at some point. . . isn’t it more important that she trusted Elisabeth enough to want her to share in the end, than to say the words, “yes, i know I am dying?”
Note: I will be away on retreat for the next week. I wish you all well and I hope you enjoy the articles that I have left in my stead.
May sorrow show us the way to compassion
May I realize grace in the midst of suffering
May I be peaceful and let go of expectations.
May I receive the love and compassion of others.
With love and deep gratitude, Jennifer