This week, my client’s sister passed away peacefully in a nursing home under hospice care. My client questioned when her sister would ask for her support over the last twelve months. When she did talk to her sister either in person or via telephone, my client said that her sister always asked how she was doing and did not talk about her illness at all. My client visited her twice a day for the last two weeks, seven days a week. As her sister laid in bed in a conscious state, she continued to ask my client the same questions about how she was doing. A few days ago, her sister became congested in her lungs where she needed increased dosages of morphine to decrease her pain. While morphine decreases pain, high dosages will suppress your breathing. Three days ago, her sister lapsed into a coma. Under hospice comfort measures, intravenous fluid treatments for hydration and medicinal purposes are withheld.
Two days ago on Monday, a friend of her sister thanked my client for visiting everyday. The friend told her how much her support meant to her sister. My client said she “lost it” by crying non-stop. I never saw my client cry in her sessions with me until she told me about this encounter. I intuitively sensed that my client finally got her answer on when her sister needed her support. Her presence was needed to visit her sister in the nursing home until she passed away. My client felt relieved about her role to just be in the “now” with her dying sister.
It is funny how we think and may fuss when we don’t know when an individual may need our support. Compassion can happen in the “now” and not by a planning process with structure and time limits. Great lessons can be learned on how we can serve each other in the now.
Robbin Miller is a counselor who specializes in mindfulness meditation; Positive Psychology; and Cognitive-Behavioral Therapies; and is also a volunteer cable access producer and co-host of her show, "Miller Chat" in Massachusetts.