I started working as a hospice massage therapist over a year ago. Two hundred and sixty seven visits later, I am humbled by this work.
During my professional life as a massage therapist, many moments have touched my heart and reaffirmed my choice of careers, but none compare to those I have experienced while working with those who are dying.
Over and over again, I am granted entrance into the sacred space of families who are immersed in the journey towards death. I have found that in most cases, this space is carefully contained to include only those people who are closest to the patient. Each day that I walk into this bubble, I transform into the very best version of myself; knowing intuitively what to say, how to act, and how to touch. What I have learned is immeasurable and perhaps indescribable. These are but a few of the lessons:
- Every patient I meet will die.
- Every person deserves to be touched with love.
- Every person is beautiful.
- Presence is more important than technique.
- A massage session is 90 percent love and 10 percent massage.
- Family is the single most important thing in life.
- Intention matters.
- Time is relative.
- Eye contact is more important than the words I say.
- Every visit is different.
- It is easy to get caught up in the hopes of caregivers.
- I experience Elisabeth Kubler-Ross’ Stages of Grief over and over again.
- I must be willing to be adaptable or “make do”.
- There are moments when my heart breaks.
- The car is a good place to cry.
- Music calms the body.
- Sometimes, running my hands through a patient’s hair is enough.
- Saying goodbye is important.
Massage is one of several complementary therapies available to Care Dimensions’ hospice patients.
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