July 3, 2011

the needs of the dying

     On the recommendation of a professor, I started reading the book Facing Death and Finding Hope:  A guide to the emotional and spiritual care of the dying.  Her husband was diagnosed with acute leukemia at only 24 years of age and died about a year after.  And from where I sit, it doesn't matter much what kind of cancer a person has when it comes to dying.  A cancer death is a brutal death.  Her loss occurred back in the mid 70s when the hospice concept was just getting started.  After her husband's death she became heavily involved in the local hospice programs.  From her experience, she writes one chapter where she says:
After years of listening to many people who are dying, hearing them try to articulate what they need during this most difficult passage of their lives, I will try to speak for them to you, their loved ones and caregivers.  I will speak with one voice representing all their many voices, communicating the emotional, practical, and spiritual needs of a human being facing imminent death.
     Some ring true, very true, either from my perspective, from what I heard my brother express or from what I witnessed of us surrounding him.  I'd like to dole them out in small amounts.  Reading them all at once was a bit much, at least for me.
I am going through so many changes; I feel so uncertain about my future.  Sometimes all I can see in front of me are those future things I am afraid of.  And each day, my fear ignities a different emotion.  Some days I can't take it in and I need to believe it isn't happening.  So there might be days or even weeks that I will feel sad, or act irritated.  If you can listen and accept me, without trying to change or fix my mood, I will eventually get over it and be able to relax, and perhaps even laugh with you again.

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