Working with End-of-Life

Just saw a client yesterday in the paliative care unit of a local hospital. End stage pancreatic cancer. We have a mutual friend. This woman – late 50’s saw me once before and only wanted to talk. That was March. It felt like our topics were things she had no one else she was comfortable discussing with.

– how do I get the doctor to tell me straight how much time he thinks I’ll have. I don’t have a clue if it’s a month or a year.

– what if I can’t take the pain

– my family doesn’t want to talk about death, and they always accompany me to the doctor so I can’t talk with him about it either

– my non-fat food is boring and I see how much people around me care and are working hard to make it taste good, but it doesn’t, and I can’t tell anyone that. I miss my fatty food!

Basically I heard her yearning for a place and time to speak her truth.

I didn’t think I’d see her again. Then Monday I got a message from our friend saying this woman is urgently attempting to reach me. I called her around 9am Monday and she asked for a Tuesday 1pm appointment. Sure, afterward laughing that her urgent and my urgent are 2 different things, but she definitely got my attention. I was ready to drop everything and just go. Maybe noone knows that.

So yesterday it’s the 2nd time I’ve seen her 1-on-1. When I enter she can barely open her eyes and thank me for coming. The family knows nothing of her appointment and are a bit confused to see me, but very welcoming. The session is a full hour session. That surprises me. Most people so weak only want a few minutes. I kept checking with her. Fine, fine, fine … more, please. OK. Gentle beginning on the feet. Mid-body seemed to cause breathing stress. Touch to heart chakra and the whole body gave a little pop and thrill (very lovely). Quite a long time at her head with gentle neck unwinding and  parietal lift. She invites me in to provide comfort. I love providing at this level. No confusion/noise from previous relationship/expectations, just allowing me to help her be comfortable with what is.

Left after 1.5 hrs exactly of coming into their suite. Her eyes were wide open and bright and soft. How does she pay me? Good question! I’d rather be invited back than get my standard pay, but I don’t want to find out if it’s an either/or situation. I told her to give it some thought and welcome to pay me once next time so we don’t think about it as I come and go. Just saying that I was willing to come and go seemed to be a comforting idea. I told her I can do distance work and am happy to do that, too. Of course I don’t know if there’ll be any of that, but it was nice speaking it.

Slight chat with younger sister. Nod to him who may be younger sister’s husband. Bright thankful eyes all around. Spacious happiness with me.

That was my afternoon. Then I went off to Starbucks to edit a scientific paper that’s been difficult to work on. Yesterday it was easy. Nothing could have bothered me.

How do I modify what I say and how I live to invite in much much more of this kind of afternoon?

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