The EFC is inviting Canadians to share Your Stories of Palliative Care, as we launch the Palliative Care Toolkit, a resource to encourage discussion and help equip Canadians in dealing with serious illness. Contact us to submit your palliative care story. We would be honoured to hear it and share it.
By Pat Klein
I was a palliative care community nurse for many years. Looking back over the years, the phrases “intense,” “extremely challenging” and “the sharing of deep grief” come to mind.
I was one of a team of nurses, each with an assigned district, who visited dying patients and family members in their homes.
Some were very angry at the prognosis and blamed the medical system. Many were elderly spouses caring for their partner of many years. Occasionally there were teenagers caring for a parent. Or parents caring for their baby or teenager. And sometimes a partner was caring for their loved one dying of AIDS, recognizing that they too were HIV+, and so likely would face a similar fate.
Being a palliative care nurse made me admire family caregivers tremendously! I remember the daddy of two little girls, caring for the wife he loved while awkwardly learning to fix his daughters’ hair, or tie the bows of their dresses.
Helping a family by advocating for them with pharmacists, equipment providers, doctors and people who controlled the purse-strings brought satisfaction to me.
Encouraging a caregiver to sit and just talk before we started the care helped them express their fears, frustrations, joy and love when sometimes there was no other safe person to whom they could express these feelings.
Developing some expertise in managing pain, shortness of breath, nausea, positioning in bed or moving to a chair were all tools I picked up that helped me help them in practical ways.
My faith and love for the Lord and letting them know I’d be happy to pray with them was often very welcome to the people I cared for.
“Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for Thou art with me.”
It was a privilege to walk with many in this dark valley, to lessen the loneliness, the pain, the fear, for at least a little bit. I long for Canadians wherever they live to have equal access to quality palliative care, whether in their own home, in a hospice or a hospital.
Have you witnessed the difference palliative care made for a loved one? If you have an experience that you’d be willing to share on the EFC’s platform, email us to tell us about it. To say thank you, we’ll give you a free one-year subscription to Faith Today, Canada’s Christian magazine, where subscribers can read stories like this recent feature on palliative care.