Many say that death is only a new beginning. Others are afraid of the end of life. However, everyone understands that death is inevitable, so the best people can do is to make their last days (or last days of their loved) full of love and care. Hospices address this need and assist people to “cross the bridge” with dignity.
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Karen Modell points out that such hospices as Vitas Hospice “create the space” to comfort people and make them prepared to the ending cornerstone of their lives. Modell states that they are not trying to judge or choose the better way to spend the last days, they rather try to do everything they can to make people happier. Apart from this, Modell also mentioned the major points which social workers should take into account when working with their patients in hospices.
She claimed that ability to listen properly is one of the essential tools for social workers since patients who are preparing to their last journey often (if not always) need to reflect on their lives and tell their “saga”. Notably, Sutton Holder and Aldredge-Clanton (2004) also emphasize the importance of proper listening stating that dying persons need “listening ears” (10). These people do not need sharing opinions or listening too advices they want to analyze their own experiences and to make sure they have an attentive listener.
Apart from this Modell articulated the importance of following the necessary rituals since spiritual component of people’s lives plays essential role when it deals with death. Modell noted that if rituals “were not followed through” regrets could appear later. Sutton Holder and Aldredge-Clanton (2004) also stress that it is crucial to follow the necessary rituals since during these rituals a dying person can feel relief. Of course, it is essential to know what exactly a patient may need, i.e. to take into account this individual’s cultural background. Notably, Sutton Holder and Aldredge-Clanton (2004) and Karen Modell provide a lot of helpful information for social workers or people who have to care about a person who is dying.
It goes without saying that when death is just a topic for philosophical discussion it is quite difficult to create some theories and make assumptions. However, everything changes when the death comes closer. As far as I am concerned, I never thought this period and care could be as difficult but at the same time as important for me. I had an experience of hospice with a loved person. I should say this is a very helpful service. I know that we got everything we might need. I also understand that people who face the necessity to accept terrible truth obtain the necessary assistance in hospices and they get prepared to the “journey”.
When listening to Modell and when reading the work of Sutton Holder and Aldredge-Clanton (2004) I recollected those moments I experienced when spending last days with a dearest person. I saw that many people witness the same, and it is possible to comfort dying people. Now I think I have a more complete picture of how to help people to cross the bridge. My person experience and experience revealed in Modell’s speech or the book by Sutton Holder and Aldredge-Clanton (2004) are valuable sources of knowledge for me, as a social worker since I know how to make dying people feel care in their last days. Admittedly, every person needs a unique approach, but the background information I gained will show me possible ways to move while helping people to cross the bridge.
Sutton Holder, J., & Aldredge-Clanton, J. (2004). Parting: A Handbook for Spiritual Care Near the End of Life. Chapel Hill: The University of North Carolina Press.