Welcome to After the waiting room.
My name is Shane Sullivan and I hope you’re enjoying these podcasts so far.
Today, I thought I’d call the podcast letting go.
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I’ve been working in aged care oncology and palliative care for quite a few years now, and I also work with other people who are into their sports, have work stresses and injuries, and I treat babies and expectant mothers and dads on the whole, a variety of people.
Because I like variety with many different needs and it makes my practice very interesting and fulfilling.
I’m not sure who originally coined the following phrase, but it really described my last couple of weeks.
When you are, well, your family belongs to you.
When you are unwell, you belong to your family.
This week I said farewell to two friends who died a day apart from one another.
Both had originally been clients of mine quite a few years ago now, and over time they had become part of my network of friends.
When they became ill, I had been requested by one family to render assistance in pain relief.
I was very happy to assist, but I’m also aware that as time goes on, families tend to close the circle, not wanting to be contacted by anyone outside of the immediate family.
Now, some people may find that difficult. When families cut themselves off from others.
But, it is a time and an opportunity for us to hold space for that family to let them be unless help is requested.
I have great satisfaction knowing that I can teach families simple ways of connecting to that person who is very unwell and may or may not have a good prospect of recovery.
I find it important to teach families gentle ways of connecting with their loved one because sometimes people may need to be guided and reassured that informed touch won’t break or make the person worse.
It can be a wonderful time for family to reconnect through touch, and once I’ve given them some simple guidance, it’s then time for me to step aside.
It’s never about me.
It’s time for them to get on with what they have to do.
That being, letting go and having that private space to say goodbye.
Some families may invite and welcome friends into the circle and others may not, and either way is okay.
It was interesting meeting with friends at one of the funerals I attended.
One lady was saying that they were a bit put out of being refused access by our friends, family.
After all, she traveled a long way to come and see them.
We talked about how we were feeling for a while and realized that it was the way it ought to be.
The family was following the wishes of their loved one.
Our friend was exercising their control of how they wanted their last days to unfold, and it was within the safe space of their family.
There is a wonderful program called the five wishes.
You may have heard about it, which empowers people to set out for their families, their final wishes of how they want their last days to be and beyond, emotionally, spiritually, and religiously, medically, legally, and financially.
It can be an addition to the advanced care plan offered by the hospitals.
It’s a great guide to complete when we are all well enough to make decisions about the top of care we want for ourselves because it sets out a clear roadmap for our families to follow without all that second-guessing about what our final wishes may be.
Copies of the five wishes program may be sourced from the pastoral health care network Australia, and there is also a version available in the United States as well.
It is something we all must face eventually and I, for one, I’m very happy to have my family informed about my wishes for when it’s time to die and leave this existence behind.
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