Sitting in our interdisciplinary team meeting last week, I was struck anew by the vastness of the personal experience of dying and grief. I heard the story of a guest whose family closely monitored, and sometimes challenged, every dose of comfort medication given, constantly fearing that too much medicine would rob them of precious time together. Next, the experience of another guest whose family so feared a recurrence of pain and suffering that they wanted to remove all variation from the regimen and keep the medications on an automatic, precise, around the clock schedule. Both approaches are understandable. Both are reactions to deeply held fear and dread during the dying process.
Cherishing every moment and preventing suffering are positive, proactive goals of living throughout dying. As caregivers, our challenge is to live in that space of extremes, and to maintain a steady, calm awareness of the pendulum swing of grief and coping responses. Our mission is to help our guests make the most of every moment, to life fully throughout their dying process. There is no one way, no right way, to do this – only each person’s uniquely individual way. We are here to help people find their way on this journey. We can guide. We can support. And sometimes we can only be silent companions or witnesses. It is not our journey, but we will be faithfully present, ready to put ourselves in the space of extremes and hope that brings solace to the suffering.
– Kelley Scott, Executive Director