Sunday, September 4, 2011

Hope: framing it

As we age, the things we hope for change.
It used to be:
Something to do, someone to love, something to hope for.
Illness changes the frame around your life.
Hopes changes, too.
No longer do you hope for a cure, once you are palliative. One must hope for different things:
  • hope for a good day,
  • hope for a good meal,
  • hope for visitors,
  • hope not to have visitors,
  • hope for the small things that make life good to live,
  • hope for a sign that someone cares,
  • hope to go outdoors,
  • hope to be pain-free.
Once all hope is gone, yes, you are ready to die. Some of my aging clients feel much hope is gone: their friends are dead, they have nothing left to do, their journey is over, they live with chronic pain, chronic illness, or frailties. Others look back to the lives they have fruitfully led.

False hope is a truly evil thing. Physicians do not help some patients in this regard. This is a complaint that many caregivers make to me.

At the end of life, there is work to do. Making amends, talking to loved ones, saying goodbyes.
I was sad that I did not know how close my mother was to death. All the old photos, the memories that were alive in her were gone, and died with her. I wanted to relive some of them before her death. It was not to be.

I now work with hospice and palliative clients to help them have hope every day, in a different way.

See also: Framing happiness: our attitude

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