True care is felt through the love that is expressed . . . True care is love in activity and comes into every interaction we have with a person who is dying. We hold people in love in the way we talk and the way we move, the way we plump the pillow, or get a glass of water. Love is conveyed in the way we touch a person as we wash, dry, apply moisturiser and assist them with dressing.
When there is true care, a beautiful tenderness and intimacy is often felt in the interaction between the patient and carer. As carers, we feel the fragility, vulnerability and delicateness of another when they are coming close to the end of their life and we can’t help but treat them with tenderness and delicacy, honouring the preciousness that is felt. This delicate and gentle touch is likened to the way we hold a new baby in our arms.
There is a fine veil between death and life, which is seen at this time as the body fades away, and when you are present with a person who is dying and feeling where they are at, their presence asks you to be very gentle . . . you can’t rush.
There can be no investment from the carer in needing the situation to be a certain way. As carers, we too surrender to the dying process of the patient, putting our own agendas and issues aside as we embrace the patient, accept where they are at and what they want. This depth of loving care may be confronting for anyone who is not comfortable with dying and expressing love in their life, and or are resisting it in any way.
When someone approaches their end of life they become very sensitive to everything around them. They can feel if the carer has an agenda, any expectations or need in them and the person dying can start showing resentment to the care and carer or shut down.
It is the same in life, however, it is more amplified in death – the dying person is more sensitive and aware of what feels right and what does not.
They can feel the lovelessness when people are caring from a ‘doing-good’ motive, from sympathy or from duty. The person who is dying may feel that they need to care for the carer, which does not allow them to be in their dying process.
When we as carers are rushed and not present, the care is not reflective of the vulnerability of the patient, the tasks that are needed to be done are carried out in a functional way not honouring the patient and what they are experiencing at this time.
To express love in activity we need to love ourselves and express the love that we have for ourselves and everyone else. When we hold a quality of love within us first the quality of care we give is equal to that love.
When we deeply love humanity and care about what another is experiencing, our willingness to be in connection and relationship can cancel out the demands, tasks and so-called duty of the job. The tenderness and care that is there when we are with someone who is dying is felt by that person. Every word and every touch can have purpose allowing and confirming in them their own gentleness and truth.
This true care transcends the physicality of the dying process, sharing a beautiful love and inner-knowing between the carer and the person who is dying.
Gretel W., Paula S., Yasmin L., Susan C., Jill S., Australia
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