Lessons from the Dying 3: Keeping Relationships Current

In hospice and oncology massage classes I often say:  

“We come to know who we are in the presence of others; life is relational.”

I believe that as hospice and palliative care massage therapists we enter our clients’ lives first as a human being, second as a massage therapist.

In our previous two lessons we learned that being present is enough and listening deeply influences how our touch is received. In end of life massage, our role is to assist others in their journey: to comfort and care; to accompany and presence; to offer compassion and connection. This is Caring Touch©.  It empowers us to be authentic and current in our relationships.

What does it mean to be “authentic?” Simply, it means we meet and work with our client where they are. We do not offer false hope or pity them. We see who they are as a whole person, and not their disease process. We honor them by listening deeply and receiving the wisdom they wish to share. If they are nonverbal, we may narrate what we are doing or presence their deep peace.

We afford them time in getting to know us. We spend time helping them become physically comfortable in their positioning adjustments. If we engage their help in moving their arm or leg this simple act may help them regain a sense of control over their body.

We share a laugh, a tear, or hug. We say what we need to say upon conclusion of each session. Personally, I love to throw a kiss, wave and smile on my way out of their home while silently wishing them well on their journey until the next time I may see them.

Keeping relationships current means we experience our time together as unburdened of strained emotions – and uncomplicated by questions left unanswered.  

We speak our truth in a way that is honest, respectful and honors our mutual connection. When our relationships are current – whether with our clients or our loved ones – there is more room for trust, acceptance, and forgiveness.

Keeping relationships current creates space for living and healing into death on earth.

Tune in next week for the fourth and final lesson: Honoring the Moment.

Register for the next Journeys in Dying hospice massage workshop. It is 3 days that will change the way you practice bodywork. Ethics credits have now been added to the curriculum. Payment plans are available.