Wednesday, April 24, 2013

A life well-lived and a person well-loved

These are hand that worked
long and hard over 94 years.
I find, as a hospice volunteer, that we are so caught up in the 'battle' with a disease. Many have anger towards 'cancer' and give it power and personification. This is a negative strategy.

What do you say?

What do you do?

You cannot change the present, but you can laud the past. I usually do a Life Review with my clients. This began as I wrote my late father's obituary, while he was dying of a brain tumour. It helped to focus on his achievements, what I appreciated about him, and what he meant to me. This is a much more in-depth process that helps you and your loved one come to terms with the meaning of life. It is very therapeutic. The other thing to do is to go over old photos with your father as well as your mother. This makes for a very positive encounter. I just lost a client this past week, and I so loved her!

There is much research and much written about end-of-life care. We ignore much of it, as well. It is my premise that the research-based Life Review is an important part of palliative care. The recommendation is that nurses do this, but I think this is something trained hospice volunteers should do with their clients. For tech-savvy family or volunteers, we can put these answers into a PPT or an iMovie.

Life Review Questions

  • Tell me about your childhood. 
  • What was school like?
  •  What about your teenage years? 
  •  Did you like school? 
  • What did you do for fun in your youth? 
  • What is your favourite food?      
  •  Tell me about your family members. 
  •  What about your best friends? 
  •  Tell me about overcoming an obstacle in your life. 
  •  What is your deepest regret or disappointment in your life? 
  •  What do you think are the most important things about life? 
  •  What are your life’s achievements? 
  •  What do you find are the most satisfying things in life?
  •  Who have you admired and why? 
  •  Describe the kind of person you have been. 
  •  What were the happiest moments in your life? 
  •  What messages would you like to leave your family? 
  •  What mystifies you about life today?  

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