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A Healing Presence

The intention of providing a healing presence is not to remedy. The intention is to hold a space for you to move towards wholeness in whatever shape or form that may be. A healing presence can provide the tools and guidance for you to feel safe, supported and heard. By providing these conditions you have the opportunity to access your innate potential for emotional and spiritual healing.

It is an individual journey and everybody will do it differently. For example: some may like to talk; some may prefer silence. When a healing presence is being practiced both people regardless of status are considered equal.

Falling into a space of softness and openness to be nothing more and nothing less than what you already are.

The Concept of Healing

The concept of healing is often thought of as to fix or cure something or someone that is physically, mentally, emotionally, or spiritually broken or unwell. Assuming that something is wrong or faulty with imperfection, and that there is a requirement to facilitate “wellness” for the healing to be successful.

A biomedical model’s approach to healing is to control disease processes and body dysfunction, whereas a more holistic approach to healing would factor in a psychological and spiritual component. this concept of healing is something that happens from within and not something another can cause, it is personal and subjective. Therefore, when looking at the concept of healing in the terminally ill patient, shifting the focus away from treatment and creating a space that healing can occur without expectation of what that may look like or be, can be invaluable to the dying person.

As quoted in Midwifing Death “healing is a blend of many possibilities, most notably peace, love, acceptance, forgiveness and self-forgiveness” (Barbato, 2013). Working towards any or all of these possibilities can assist in preparedness and readiness to die. A healing journey can be confronting, challenging, overwhelming and painful. Yet to have the opportunity to safely begin such a journey can help alleviate suffering and despair, shed emotional burden, and pave the way towards a sense of peace, resolve, and completion.

Death...What are your fears, hopes and expectations?

 

Fears, hopes and expectations around death for one person may be different for another. Due to our societies’ poor death literacy many people are unaware of how much they can be involved in ensuring they have some control and are empowered in their own dying process and death.

Taking care of business, confronting fears and achieving acceptance around death and dying creates space to be able to fully live in the time that is left in this mortal life. Being able to reflect and talk openly and freely about one’s wishes and have those wishes acknowledged, respected and met; to have the presence of somebody who can listen to your fears and hopes; and the provision of physical, emotional and spiritual comfort can help achieve a better death experience.

Let's Talk...

Opening up the dialogue around death with the dying helps to gain an understanding of what fears and worries are present; what would be the goals one would like to fulfill; and what would be an unacceptable outcome. This knowledge can assist in identifying what a dignified death means to you and family and facilitate empowerment to make decisions and work towards a desirable outcome. This may not be an easy discussion and space would be held to allow an array of emotions to be expressed, as well as providing a sense of safety to be vulnerable.

Being able to speak openly and honestly can help to process emotions and thoughts around dying, and work towards acceptance. Interacting from this space of acceptance and compassion can help diminish fear and anxiety around dying for both the dying and those who remain. However, it is just as important to allow fear and anxiety to be expressed and not dismiss it with comments like “don’t worry, you will be okay”. Being resilient does not mean pretending the hard stuff isn’t hard. It is important to recognise that fear is a human condition and will come and go. It’s a process.

Dying with Dignity...What does that mean?

Personal or emotional dignity is connected to a person's sense of worth and respect. It is subjective and varies among individuals. Dying in a way that the individual perceives as dignified is an important aspect of "dying well", and caregivers play a pivotal role in empowering the dying person in meeting this.

Definitions of dying with dignity can be associated with a variety of factors, including a sense of autonomy and self-determination; being treated with respect and understanding; and the ability to engage in activities the dying person finds meaningful, such as those that bring joy, happiness, fulfillment, and contentment. Cognitive and physical abilities of illness are also factors that need to be recognised and considered.

The experience of dying with dignity can easily and unknowingly be denied to a person through silence, a failure to listen, lack of communication, and not honouring or respecting the wishes of the dying individual.

Respecting one's wishes regarding their final days allows them to meet their death on their own terms.

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