The night we learned my cousin David would not survive his cancer diagnosis, I don’t recall the words the doctor said. What I do remember is the doctor’s soft voice, the gentleness of his tone, the warmth of his grasp. The nurse bringing all of us refreshing cups of ice water to hydrate us after our tears. The feeling of support all around us.
While I know that words are very important and “difficult conversations” that we have in hospice need to be well thought through, I realize it is often the simple things that stay with me in my own life.
Several years ago, after my dear friend Richard died in hospice home care, I recall an unexpected phone call from the Chaplain checking on me. I had met her briefly one day when I was visiting my friend and had forgotten she had taken down my name and phone number. I knew little about hospice at that time and was stunned to think someone would take the time to call me – a friend. This really touched me and this “simple” phone call made all the difference to me.
In our daily visits, maybe that is something to keep in mind. The simple things – a gentle touch, a calm voice, a warm smile – are the things our patients and their families and friends will remember.
This also applies to our interactions with other members of our profession and our Team. A kind word, an expression of gratitude or a quick word of encouragement can make the difference for them. We’ve all had days when a text or word from a colleague made a difference in our day. We need to remember these simple things in our daily lives with whomever crosses our path.