Opinion Words of wisdom: What dying can teach us about living - Parts 3 & 4 - ehospice

Edition:

|
Edition Logo

Words of wisdom: What dying can teach us about living – Parts 3 & 4

Categories: Opinion.

During Dying Matters Week Royal Trinity Hospice released a series of four blogs, sharing reflections on the experiences of some members of staff and patients and the insights they have gained about what is most important in life through their encounters with dying. We are pleased to be sharing them in ehospice with their kind permission over two weeks. 

So, what does dying teach us about living – Part 3 – Love & Connection

We are social beings. There is no doubt that our relationships with others remain highly important throughout our lives.

Our personalities, values and paths are formed thanks to our interactions and experiences with others and strong connections have huge benefits for our overall wellbeing.

This is especially true when we are faced with difficult and stressful situations, such as illness and bereavement.

Staff at Trinity have a unique position to support those who are facing one of the most challenging times in life, giving them a window into how important love and connection is. What have they learnt and what can we all apply to our day to day lives?

Amy (Consultant in Palliative Care)

‘I often have conversations in which the patient is worried about their loved ones, and the loved ones are worried about the patient, although these concerns are not always shared for fear of upsetting the other person.

Personally, I find it heartening to see that when faced with life limiting illness and death, it is often those connections with loved ones that are paramount above all else.’

Abbey (Clinical Nurse Specialist)

‘I think that for some people it can bring people and families together.

It makes you think about your family. I find that especially if I am looking after someone who is a similar age to my mum, someone who is close to home. Or if it is someone who is a similar age to me and has a relationship it can make you reflect on that too.

It makes me feel grateful for the relationship I have with my family and to make sure I cherish it and don’t take it for granted.’

Vincent (Healthcare Assistant)

‘I believe that love and connection are very special and important aspects of life. We have an intrinsic need for them, but at the same time, our experiences shape the way we perceive them.

Everyone has their own love language. For some people, connection requires profound intimacy, while others’ needs are satisfied with simple conversations about the weather over a cuppa.

We as healthcare professionals can make a real difference here – kindness, open-mindedness, and showing we care are some of our most important qualities.

Some people may have never (or rarely) experienced them because unfortunately life does not deal the same cards to everyone, but every single person deserves some degree of love and connection.

Lastly, I think that being able to receive (and give!) love as we embark on our final journey can make our passing a blissful and meaningful experience (for ourselves and for the people close to us).’

—————

So, what does dying teach us about living – Part 4 – Personal philosophy and what’s most important 

One inescapable and challenging part of life is death, but it can also serve as a reminder that life is finite and precious.

Thinking about the end of our lives can help us to reflect on the life we have led and the actions, ideas and beliefs we value the most. Many of us can think of a time when we have learnt an important lesson about life through a difficult or inspirational experience.

We asked staff members and patients at Trinity about what their encounters with dying have taught them about their personal philosophy and what matters most. 

Elena (Hospice patient) 

“Words of wisdom I would share are in tough times to make sure you get answers to your questions.

I think most of the time we don’t feel our questions are worth it and can feel scared that by asking questions we are wasting some-one else’s time. It is really important to speak up in the moment.”

Rohan (Hospice patient) 

“Learning in life is one of the most important things. Without learning the chances of failure are higher. Common sense is in teamwork, I have realised that without a team you don’t achieve anything.”

Amy (Consultant in Palliative Care) 

“One of the most common responses I receive when I tell people that I work in palliative care is “that must be very sad”. Which of course it is at times.

Most of the time however, I find my role to be life-affirming and an important reminder of the fragility of life and the precious nature of otherwise seemingly mundane day to day experiences.

Above all, working in this role reinforces to me on a daily basis how fortunate I am to have close relationships with my loved ones, and the importance of prioritising those people and connections above all things.”

Vincent (Healthcare Assistant) 

“This is where it gets really interesting, because there will never be a one-size-fits-all answer to this.

However, most of us will inevitably be confronted with the question that has moved humanity since before the beginning of time – where do we go when we have left the physical realm? There may never be a definitive answer to this, and while some may find this disappointing, I believe it is an opportunity to regain control – if no one knows where we will go, then what we think and where we want to be is as real and tangible as anything.

Being able to express ourselves and being the individual that we are – no matter our physical or even cognitive and mental capabilities at the time – is important, and no one and nothing can take that away from us, not even death.

We all want to be seen and heard and understood. As healthcare professionals, we need to accept that when life comes to an end, the things we think we know lose relevance, and we need to give everyone the opportunity to be the individual they are – even if that entails doing less of what we think is best.

To sum it up, all the previously mentioned values are important – experiences, forgiveness, love and connection – but at the centre of it all is our individuality, in which we can find dignity.”

Abbey (Clinical Nurse Specialist) 

“I have learnt that life is really short, try to not get too wrapped up in work and make space and time for other things.

Also, looking after yourself and treating your body with kindness and being kind to other people is important. I think that’s probably one of the most important things to me, to give out kindness. I think if I can do that then I feel at peace.

I aim to make people feel comfortable, that’s all I want out of people generally. I am not religious, and actually working in palliative care has made me think about that. Even though I am around people who are dying and death, when I think about my own death it does still make me feel anxious. I think it might be because I don’t believe anything happens after you dying and seeing all these people from different religions and cultures there is actually something really comforting about religion. I have felt a bit envious of that and I find it really interesting to learn about.

Dying is the one thing in life that we know for certain is going to happen to us! But there is still such a big taboo around it and I just think the more conversations we have about it the more open, and comfortable we feel about it and more open and important conversations can happen about it.” 

——————————-

 

Thank you to Royal Trinity Hospice for granting permission for us to share these pearls of wisdom in ehospice. Parts 1 & 2 can be found here.

Alternatively go to the Royal Trinity Hospice website and read them all there:

PART 1: BUCKET LIST

PART 2: FORGIVENESS

PART 3: LOVE & CONNECTION

Part 4:Personal philosophy and what’s most important

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

In Partnership with

Support Our Vision

Help to spread knowledge & good practice in palliative care around the world!

Donate Here