The whole person

Week #17

This week I am going to talk about something that not many people really want to talk about. Death.

Death is something I have come to think about more often than I would like to since losing my father so abruptly in 2008.

I told myself a long time ago that I would somehow find something meaningful through the loss of my father.

I have certainly found the ability to look at this precious time we have here on earth in a very different way and in the past week I have taken the first steps in attaching myself to something meaningful through this loss.

I have begun the training to become a respite companion for the terminally ill in our community.

Is it scary? Yes.
Is it unfamiliar? Yes.
Will it be sad? Yes.

But here’s the thing. This is a very personal topic. A topic which sits uneasy with me, more than five years later.

Because my dad’s heart attack happened so unexpectedly and so quickly, I was unable to reach him until he had already passed on.
It hurts to my core, knowing that he was surrounded by unfamiliar faces, loud noises, starch white walls, machines and cords hooked up to him in his last moments.
I often wonder if he was scared.
Was he confused?
Was he comforted by anyone?
Was he wondering where we were?
Was anyone there to offer a warm touch to his hand, his shoulder or forehead as he passed?

I type this with an aching stomach and such very deep sadness.

So while I begin this journey as a respite worker, with some uneasiness, I have those thoughts about my father’s last moments in the back of my mind, urging me to make a difference for someone.

Before I go on, I want to point out that I am so grateful to modern medicine for so many more reasons than I could touch on but I believe our society has lost the ability to offer people comfort on an emotional, social, intellectual and spiritual level when they are passing.

I have begun very minimal research on the art of living and dying and it intrigues me.
What draws me in is the focus on the whole person.
Caring for people with a whole person approach has always been a concept that I have believed in and practiced regularily in my employment. For the past 12 or so years, I have used this model as my approach to providing recreation experiences for clients and residents whom I have worked with.

Now that I have begun to scratch the surface surrounding respite care for those who are dying, I believe it is natural for me to realize this approach would be most logical.

As I set out on this very new and challenging way to care, to listen and to give, I am hopeful that I can be there for someone who may need companionship during such a difficult time.

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