What I’ve Learned About Living by Taking Care of the Dying

What I’ve Learned About Living by Taking Care of the Dying

November is Hospice recognition month, and with the days quickly passing, reflecting on my passion to provide palliative and end of life care seems natural. Remembering special people, patients and families who have touched my soul, or the sad circumstances for which we were called to provide supportive care floods my memories. Of course, thoughts of my own Father are in the forefront of my thoughts. Remembering and reflecting is somewhat therapeutic, but what is much more difficult for me is to put into words how caring for people at the end of their lives has enriched my life.

End of life care is certainly a passion. Hospice and palliative care chooses us, we don’t choose hospice or palliative care. We all have stories or loved ones that have driven us to provide this type of care day in and day out. I have often spoken of my own relationship with my Dad that drives me every day. But what can I say I have learned from all of this care?

I’ve learned gratitude. Although I have generally been appreciative of many aspects of my life, I truly appreciate and feel grateful daily for my family, my friends, my work, my life in general. Mostly, I’ve learned to take the positive even from negative events.

Be present. We are all so distracted by phones, social media, the hustle and bustle of a life that never slows down any more. Pay attention and be present. The phone call, the text, the email can mostly wait. Go to the game and enjoy the game, enjoy the time with family and friends, enjoy your exercise. Whatever it is, be a part of it as you are participating.

Talk less and listen more. One of the greatest experiences I am entitled to on a weekly basis, is to sit and listen to families or patients. I sit and listen to their stories. The absolute best are the members of the greatest generation. I learn so much about living from them and their observations on life.

Learn to forgive. Accept the olive branch. That being said, sometimes rifts are so deep, they cannot be mended. Putting your needs or opinions second sometimes is necessary, but that doesn’t make it easy.

Remember we all matter. You matter because you are you. Take care of yourself. Talk to your loved ones about what is important to you, why wait?

Finally, I’ve learned kindness and compassion to each other is immeasurable. I’ve learned kindness and compassion are contagious. I hope you catch it from reading this.

Laura Marion, RN, BSN, Director, Allied Services Hospice & Palliative Care