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Death and Dying. How do those words make you feel?
Are you fearful of being around those who are dying? Do the words Death and Dying make you nervous? On Friday I attended the End of Life Nursing Education Consortium (ELNEC). I learned a lot and I re-learned stuff that I had forgotten; I often have to hear things many times before they really sink in.
I learned about pain and symptom management and how to make the patient comfortable during a stressful time. I learned about ethics and was reminded how important it is to be “present”. I mean really present. Not thinking about the grocery list or your next appointment while with the patient, but really focusing on what you are doing right then and there. Really listening while making eye contact.
However, I think my biggest take-away from the conference is a reminder that many of us are afraid of dying and death. I used to be, but my work with these precious folks and my study of the subject, have allowed my fear to diminish some.
I’ll continue to massage the sick and dying and I will continue to love the work. But instead of using the words we often use to skirt around the subject like “pass away”, “has gone to a better place”, “kicked the bucket”, etc., I will use the words death, dying, dead in a soft, comforting manner. I’m hopeful that using these direct words will help those around me become less fearful of the reality.
We are all going to die. We will ALL experience death. Let’s open the path of communication and work on making it a less fearful subject.
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