Treating patients facing the twilight moments of their lives shares a valuable perspective with those who care for them. If you desire to learn how to live life more fully, take some lessons from people who appreciate its lasting value.
Here are six powerful lessons that hospice patients teach us about life.
When Dr. Bill Bartholome faced the final months of an incurable esophageal cancer diagnosis, he considered this time a gift. “I have been provided the opportunity of reconnecting with those who have taught me, who have shared their lives with me, who have touched my life.” We have been impacted by people who influenced our lives’ path. Take the time to recognize those contributions.
We spend too much time being angry. One sweep through social media shows a population addicted to outrage. Don’t waste another day harboring negative feelings. We all hurt the ones we love, whether or not that was our intent. We need to accept forgiveness from others, then ask forgiveness when necessary. The result is a feeling of peace.
Who will make decisions about care on your behalf? For example, the matter of advance directives or the distribution of property and valued belongings are things often overlooked when we are young and healthy. But when left unaddressed, these decisions create a huge impact. The last thing we want to leave for our loved ones is a legacy of chaos.
When the typical nurse’s diet consists of diet soda and whatever edible thing can be found in the desk drawer, a hospice patient provides a stark reminder of the importance of healthy habits. Carve out time for exercise, get plenty of rest, keep stress under control, and pack healthy snacks to munch on throughout the day. Although your focus is on healing others, your health should take priority, as well.
If you had to write your obituary today, what would it say? If you find it hard to stray beyond work, then it’s time to shift your focus. The sooner you establish what matters to you, the easier it is to align your goals to support those values. Maintain a work/life balance. Expand your personal life to include travel, new hobbies, positive relationships, and a loving connection to the world around you. These elements all contribute to a full, rewarding, value-laden life.
Acknowledging life’s gifts has a profound effect. “It takes little time and effort to say thank you, yet it can have a tremendous impact on important relationships,” says Angela Morrow, RN. “You can find something to be thankful for in every relationship in your life.” Remember: Gratitude trumps guilt and regret every time. So turn to gratitude first.
We all face an end to life. Although we can’t control the circumstances surrounding our final days, we can take command of how we live each day today.