One of the most beautiful insights that came to me recently is that being present really is not dependent on physical presence. I invite you to think of presence as being more than just “physical.” Presence can be those moments you are helping to create for others, even if it’s a Zoom connection with a family member or patient. Even if you cannot be there physically, you are instilling in that family member (who will be bereaved in months and years ahead) a memory of your presence with them—or more importantly–memories of their presence with their dying loved one. So, cherish your role. Claim it. Be it. Live it.
Dr. Joy Berger, DMA, FT, BCC, MT-BC
Founder and CEO of Composing Life Out of Loss
Hospice professionals have a distinguished role in the healthcare community. You provide care for those who are departing this life. Fueled by a passion to help the suffering, you shepherd the dying process for individuals, with their families. You are experts at helping people navigate loss and grief. You help people find meaning and hope, especially in the midst of deep sorrow.
Right now, even for hospice professionals, it can feel like too much. Too overwhelming. Whether dying from COVID-19 or from a more normal disease, giving end-of-life care in these COVID-19 times often feels tragic, lacking the dignity and moments we value most.
Referring to a fire burning as an analogy for the passion that drives hospice professionals, Dr. Joy Berger, DMA, FT, BCC, MT-BC, in a webinar sponsored by Net Health and Hospice News, encouraged hospice professionals not to “burn up” and offered ways to improve self-care. Creatively using this “fire” analogy, she suggested hospice workers contain their passion and be more like a calm, controlled kerosene lamp than a raging fire. She describes how they can “refuel from within.”
“We must refuel our greatest resources: ourselves, our teams, and ultimately our patients and their families,” she advised.
A frequent, sought-after speaker for hospice, palliative and grief organizations, Dr. Berger is founder and CEO of Composing Life Out of Loss, a company that equips hospice organizations to help families cope with serious illness, hospice and grief. She has served as Director of Education for Weatherbee’s Hospice Education Network and Director of the Hospice Institute (part of Hosparus) in Louisville, KY. She was awarded the National Heart of Hospice – Psychosocial/Spiritual Caregiver Award by the National Council of Hospice and Palliative Care Professionals.
Refuel from Within
In the webinar, Dr. Berger offered compassion and understanding, and guidance to help hospice professionals refuel. Here are a few examples:
- Avoid the “Super-Hero Syndrome.” Stop trying to fix things beyond your role or control. This drains you and others around you.
- Pay attention to your body signals that something is wrong. It may be a body ache, feeling tired or hungry. Think of this body signal as a traffic light that turns yellow. Do you push to move through it, or stop? Like driving your car, discern what is best for you at the time and for ahead. Be safe. Be wise. You cannot be there for others if you don’t act safely, for yourself.
- Protect your health. Be aware of and accountable for your own possible exposures and symptoms. Do not ignore symptoms. Follow your organization’s guidelines for exposure monitoring, reporting and accountability.
- Refuel yourself physically. Especially when you are at home and not busy going in and out of people’s homes, you need to eat healthy, sleep well and exercise. Prevent long-term effects of inertia, like from over-eating and too much binge tv. Pour your energy into something or someone that matters.
- Refuel yourself socially. Are you aware that the World Health Organization changed the phrase “social distancing” to “physical distancing”? Back in March they wrote, “This is because we want people to still remain connected.” Find safe ways to distance “physically” and connect relationally, like Zoom meetings, phone calls, cards, and so many other ways we see on the daily news and Internet postings.
“Hospice is about physical, psychosocial, spiritual and grief care,” Dr Berger advised. “We are all about being there, being with. We are all asking, how can we connect when we must disconnect? We are all about being present, in the present, when it matters most. I invite you to see this presence as the present—the gift—you are giving your patients and their families.”
Want to hear more from Dr. Joy Berger? View the full webinar presentation.
Learn more about her by visiting www.composinglife.com.
Learn about the Net Health Hospice EHR solution.