Of course we are failing families at the end of life!!
Death and dying are treated as medical events rather than holistic ones! Conversations around the emotional and spiritual aspects of dying and death are completely shut down, circumvented or worse totally dismissed!
In the past few weeks I have received messages from people who are completely alone in their journey. Here’s just one:
“I was told that they were very sorry but there was nothing they could do to help me and that I had less than 2 months to live. I was at that appointment by myself (well, I had my service dog who is always with me) and, having just been told that, the appointment ended and that was that. I was considered to be in such bad shape that nothing could extend my life even 2 more months so there was to be no further contact although the radiation oncologist gave me radiation to the bone marrow site to help with the severe pain. My closes family is 600 miles away so there you go, I was on my own.”
Most of us can’t even imagine how that would feel! Was she even able to process all the options presented to her at that meeting? Were there options presented at that meeting? She didn’t seem to remember so.
I offer an alternative solution as a Holistic Support Specialist, a concierge service. Available to be there at time of diagnosis or poor prognosis and able to follow along at the direction of the patient, for as long as desired. Doctors can hire me to be at these initial appointments and then patients can choose to have just that one contact, or to continue a relationship.
The last phase of life (beginning at age 60 or upon receiving a life-limiting diagnosis) brings the realization of our mortality. The generation currently entering this last phase is unlike any before with more having never married or remained single after divorce or death of spouse. They are also the first generation of DINKs (double income no kids). They also have opted for more solo spiritual paths rather than organized religious paths, thus leaving them without possible spiritual support and guidance during this time. They are also the first generation to have moved across country for work, leaving behind the family support system.
This means that those facing their mortality and their caregivers are potentially doing it alone in many ways. We can’t wait until death is imminent to implement an action plan.
If you or anyone you know has a connection in a doctor’s office or an organization that would be willing to sit down and carve out new solutions to this problem with me I am more than open and willing!