There is an inherent fear that goes with seeing or being with someone who is seriously ill and dying. It has been this way since man has walked the earth. But in the old days, death was more visible and thus an expected part of life. (Today how is it?) My hope is to “spur a movement” for change or a return really to using our humanity to care for others.
In the early 1980’s Hospice care was ushered into this country by a grassroots volunteer movement that came from a desire to dignify and de-institutionalize dying. The philosophy of Hospice was revolutionary. Care was driven by the goals and wishes of the dying person and their family, and services provided by a group of specialists focusing on the mind, body and spirit. But somehow over the past three decades, with increased hospice awareness and growth in palliative care as a specialty, there has been a shift. A move from people doing what their humanity tells them to do, to an accepted notion that only professionals are equipped to minister to the seriously ill and dying. Hospice and palliative care principles extoll education and empowerment of people to minister to their own, yet as helpers it seems we have gotten further away from this mission.
The questions are rather simple. How do we help people to use their humanness, compassion, and humanitarianism, if you will to minister and care for our loved ones or all who are dying? How do we help family and friends overcome fear and use what their hearts and minds tell them to do? How do we perpetuate this idea so it spreads? Do we have to measure it?