Death is not a subject most of us are ready to talk about or even consider for ourselves. The problem is that it will come at some point – no getting away from it. For those who work in palliative care it becomes a way of life and can be an opening to cherishing life more deeply. In the video below palliative care pioneer, Dr. Balfour Mount, says that years after leaving the unit workers have told him, “The time spent on the service was the best time of my life.”
Death brings with it a sense of loss, the feeling of an ending for those left behind. This is a similar feeling when injury or illness means that you can no longer participate in or enjoy life the way you once could. Sometimes people in pain consider death as an option to being out of pain but I believe we can, whether we are in pain or not, use the circumstances of our life as a path to personal growth.
Dr. Charles Gunten says that, “the lived experience, what I get to routinely see in taking care of patients, is growth and development.” He goes on to say that through the experience his patients find “more of who they are and they discover new features of what it means to be alive.”
Remember, Dr. Gunten is talking about patients who know they are going to die. Perhaps the difference is that they see an end in sight but for someone in pain there may be no end. This is all there ever will be. If that’s the case why not make it the best experience you can?
Look for ways to appreciate what you have, be it a home, a family, a part-time job, a loving animal or a really great picture on your bedroom wall. Give thanks for the things that you can do whether it’s being able to walk the block, care for your children or volunteer your services. There is always someway that your presence can bless the world and those around you but only when you are able to see the blessings in your own life.
The lived experience is what counts. How are you living yours?
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