Caring for the Dying

Helping the Dying to Live

One day we will all have to visit, help, or comfort a dying person. How should we treat someone with a terminal illness? Shouldn’t we treat them the same way we treat anyone else? Why should we treat them differently when there is no difference between us. After all, aren’t we all dying?

Yes, we are all dying, but until we take our last breath, we are all living.

And that’s where the emphasis belongs, for dying is about mourning and living is about celebration. So, let’s celebrate the remaining time we have together. Let’s enjoy warm embraces, friendly smiles, and boisterous laughter.

When we are told that a parent, spouse, child, sibling, or close relative has a terminal illness, we may have to decide between Hospice or Palliative Care. The advantage of a hospice is the patient will be in a safe environment and have all their needs met. Yet, some will prefer to care for their loved one at home, and the patient may prefer to be home as well.

But those who make that decision need to understand that the only thing more difficult than caring for a terminal patient is getting over the grief of their death. You see, the care of a terminal patient is a full-time job. In fact, it is an all-day job. What’s more, you will probably have to change your sleeping habits. If you sleep at night for eight hours, you may expose the patient to harm. So, instead of eight hours sleep, you may wind up taking four two-hour naps a day. And after the death of your loved one, it may take your body two months or longer to readjust to sleeping for eight consecutive hours.

What MATTERS in life is not MATTER. Rather, it is the intangible. It is the difference we can make in the lives of others. Although you cannot stop someone from dying, you can help them to live. When that opportunity comes, embrace it. Yes, the experience will be painful, but the rewards of helping someone enjoy their final days and the exploration of the depth and mystery of life will leave you far richer than when you began your journey.

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~ by UTS on September 9, 2010.

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