Our hospice used to give this book to any family that was open to it. Maggie Callahan has been a hospice nurse for a long time and has great insights into the journey toward dying and death.
Here is an excerpt:
“Caring for a dying person is hard work, especially at home. There are medications to be given, often around the clock, personal care to be done, meals to prepare, and sometimes dressings or treatments to do. And despite all of this, the tide of usual day-to-day responsibilities continues: bills must be paid, children must be cared for, laundry must be done. Families are frequently tired and it’s a massive job merely to focus on a particular day or a given moment. The future holds grief and loss, so many families and friends avoid looking ahead.”
There is a fine line with being present at the bedside, planning for the future, and forgiving the past if necessary. We are embodied beings, living in our temporal lives. We cannot ignore any of these three time elements.
But we can learn to a balancing dance between them and often we find that it is in being fully present to right here and now, accepting our fatigue and frustration, not glamorizing the past, and not fretting about an hour from now, that we find some sort of peace.
No one can tell you not to live in the past or future. . . it doesn’t work to just say that… but if you can practice living now, with the awareness of the past and future that you may have more peace.
Like when we are on the cushion, we bring our full attention to the experience of the cushion. But the past, future, sensations, thoughts, feelings, etc come up. We lightly touch them and let them go.
It is the same with caregiving and grieving. . . we attend to here, whatever here and now is. We don’t push away what comes up from the past or the future but we don’t entertain those things either.
Don’t set out the Pepperidge Farms cookies and a pot of tea for these things that come up. You want to foster equanimity toward them, not make best friends with them.
Make friends with what is right now and know that when things from the past or future come up, they will — that’s how your brain is designed. Acknowledge them and let them drift away.
- Symbolic Language (namasteconsultinginc.com)
- Being with Dying … Alienation (namasteconsultinginc.com)
- Plan the death you want before it’s too late (guardian.co.uk)
- Hospices taking care of dying patients’ pets (miamiherald.com)
- Tonglen for the Dying (namasteconsultinginc.com)
- He is gone (newnewenglandmama.wordpress.com)
- Vet to Vet program helps dying veterans (ocregister.com)
- Bowing (namasteconsultinginc.com)
- No One Gets Out of Here Alive (prweb.com)
- Three things people can learn from dying hospice patients (vancouverobserver.com)