I am currently reading “The Kindess Effect” by Jill Donovan, the founder of Rustic Cuff. What a great book!
In one of the chapters, she talks about just following your “knower” (I would say Holy Spirit) when you’re being nudged and moved to act in kindness towards someone else.
It got me to thinking about some of my hospice patients who have started off as very “tough” patients/families. They want you there first thing in the morning, on a certain day or at a certain time which should never change. They appear to be very “in your face”, they tend to call more than usual. Some healthcare workers would call them “needy”. I don’t like that word and here is why.
They are doing the best they can in the situation, and you know what’s behind the over assertiveness? It’s fear. It’s hard admitting to hospice, not just for the patient but for the family. At end of life, the patient doesn’t have much left that they can control. The families, even less. So if I, as a hospice nurse, can look at the situation in the proper perspective, it changes me. It challenges me. To be the best I can be, to be as patient as I can be, to be the best listener I can be, to be the best teacher/educator that I can be, to be as calm as I can be, to be the most kind that I can be.
And you know what? Once the patient and family get into the routine of hospice, they settle in for the most part. They relax. If something is going to change (like time of arrival or day of the week), you just coordinate that like you would any other appointment (friend, spouse, kids, doctor, dentist). I admit, sometimes, I’ve changed it up just to see how they react. Not on the spur of the moment, but a week or so in advance. How they react tells me a great deal about where they’re at in their hospice journey. Do they trust me? Do they trust the other hospice team members? Do they trust I’ll still be there when I said I would? Do they call just to verify prior to me getting there?
Something else I’m looking for: as hospice patients settle in they start thinking of and considering others feelings, situations, challenges, etc. They are more empathetic when talking about their family and friends who might be struggling, or it could be something they’ve seen on the news. When they are able to put aside their own current struggles for a moment even, it tells me they are more at peace, they are at a point of acceptance in their life, and their kindness has resurfaced. I love when that happens 🙂