We all know we’re going to die but that sure doesn’t make it easier. As a massage therapist and hospice volunteer, I believe that we can offer care to dying people that inspires grace and peace throughout the process of dying. Here’s how:
Aches and pains come with old age and as the body grows older, pain can become more prevalent. Massage and energy work can help relieve pain and help someone feel relaxed. It can benefit circulation and swelling (edema).
Often someone approaching the end of their life may experience touch mostly from medical professionals . There can be a lot of transferring, taking vitals, needles, bathing, and other procedural care. This care often lacks compassion due to overworked staff. Simple compassionate touch can benefit physical and mental well-being significantly. Simple hand holding, applying lotion to hands and feet, a gentle foot or head rub are examples of this kind of touch. Touch without trying to fix or change something. Touch that is loving and intentional. Touch that expresses love, and tells the receiver’s body that it is safe, that he/she is loved, and that you are there with them.
“You are the medicine” is something I tell myself every time I walk into a client or patient’s room. I am not going in to change or fix something. I am going to hold space, to be with someone where they are, to love and see them completely. I am not there to do. I am there to be with. Be with whatever he/she is experiencing. I leave my plans, my drama, my stresses and excitements in the car.
Massage for Palliative and Hospice patients can help relieve pain and anxiety. It can offer support that medical staff and even family can’t always offer. This undivided attention can help calm the patient and reduce fear. Loving and present touch is an essential part of one’s care plan. Of course there are considerations that must be made for clients experiencing severe conditions and specific illnesses where touch may not be permitted. It’s important to be knowledgable about the precautions and contraindications.