You want to help your patients, clients and their families to have conversations and make decisions about end of life, death, and dying.
How can you do this better?
Courageous Honesty is what you need first.
According to Zenith Virago , well known and experienced Deathwalker from the Natural Death Care Centre. ‘Courageous honesty, coming from the word ‘cour’, the heart, is what we all need to grow.’ This type of honest presence , unattached to any outcome allows you to drop any pretense of understanding what is going on, or why. Some call it presence, mindfulness, ‘being in the moment’. It acknowledges your own emotions and makes them known to your patient if they want to know. And it brings you closer to your patient, into a space that exists for you and the dying person to be together, as two human beings, free from clutter.
Your honesty frees you from the restrictions of thinking only like a professional, it frees you from the clutter of wondering what you should and shouldn’t say, and it lets you be present with this person, in this moment, now.
When you are honest and in the moment, you listen more humanely, ask better questions, and align more closely with their needs. You can be alongside them with compassion.
The answer then to ‘what is best for this person?’ comes from your compassion, not from your medical training or years of nursing experience. And then you go do it. In loving kindness.
Means staying neutral, without judgement.
That means acceptance of the person who is dying, of how they got here, of their choices and actions, of their family, of medical and non-medical treatments previously offered.
Acceptance that this person might die as they lived- in pain, in bitterness, with regrets and there may be nothing you need to do about that.
Acceptance of yourself- of your own abilities, limitations, mistakes and talents
Acceptance that you may have no role left to play in this person’s life and that others matter more to them right now.
With honesty and compassion and acceptance therefore comes loss.
- Loss of the need to ‘fix’ or to understand.
- Loss of the need to ‘be right’
- Loss of reliance on myths such as ‘You must stay positive’ and ‘There is always hope’
- Loss of the need for ‘shoulds’ as in ‘I should know what to do/ be /say’
- Loss of the need to provide answers to questions such as ‘What could I have done differently doctor?’ ‘Why didn’t they find this earlier?’ ‘Why is this happening to me?’
- Loss of the fear of saying ‘I don’t know’
If you are interested in the work of the Natural Death Care Centre, or training with them please find more information here