Doing and Being With the Dying


Blog Article on Hospice – for Health Care providers



We health care professionals are human beings. But in the caring profession, doesn’t it feel on some days as though we are humans, doing? At the bedside of a dying person, there is always so much activity: nurses, physicians, therapists, social workers, technicians, chaplains, staff…all are running about, ordering, controlling, managing, directing. There is medication to administer, vital signs to check, comfort to ensure. There are physical, emotional, mental and spiritual needs to be taken care of, symptoms to control, treatments to follow. And through it all, we must try to keep the patient calm, feeling supported, try to reduce their sense of anxiety and stress. There is so much to do!


Who is the caregiver who ceases doing and starts being?


What does it look like to just be with a dying person? To be still, silent, attentive, just listening? To have no agenda, no clocks ticking, nothing to do, no purpose? What if we can sit with the dying person with our hearts open, our minds clear, leaving our responsibilities and physical activities at the door? What if we leave our caring, concern and sympathy for the patient aside, just for a moment, and embrace empathy?


What is the difference, you ask? Sympathy focuses on the problem, the issue at hand—the illness, the dying. Sympathy seeks to change what is, sympathy looks for solutions. Empathy focuses on the person. Sympathy says, “I understand, I can help.” Empathy says, “I hear you.” It seems like such a fine line, doesn’t it? But empathy says “I see you.” Empathy says, “I begin with me, the genuine me, not with my role, but with myself. I will be fully here, with you, right now. You can count on me. I will connect with you, heart to heart. I will call you by name, I will not hurry or worry, I will simply stay. I will let you guide what happens next. I will respect you and your process. I will honor your silence, I’ll be sensitive, kind and gentle with whatever arises. You can tell me your worries, your fears, your burdens. I will not fix them, I will not judge you. You can share your memories, your laughter, your hopes and dreams. I will keep them secret. You can trust me. I will listen deeply. I care. You are not alone. I am here, simply being, with you.”


About the Author:

Michael Ireland is a writer, editor and wellness practitioner. She specializes in metaphysics, spirituality and self-development.

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Michael Ireland