Coping with death is something we all face at some point in life. Some of your questions about death are answered here on Kirsty TV, in this interview by Family Nurse Practitioner in Palliative Care, Therese Gibson. Therese helps people through life’s transition.
Her first patient was her sister in law, who was 38 years old when she passed away from cancer. She passed at home, in the care of Therese and her family. Time Flies When You’re Alive is a movie that was made about that experience.
There are many phases of death. Just like in birth, you need a team of doctors, nurses, family. With death, you need the same people to help people leave their bodies. Birth is seen as a celebration. With death, we seem to ignore it until it happens. Death should be a celebration that honors a person’s life! Know that that person has a right to be honored with who they are, beyond their disease.
Grieving is a natural process. Death is a natural, normal process that happens when we are at the end of life. Family members transition from grief and tears to celebrating how beautiful that person was. But you have to be careful with grief. After the tears, don’t shift it into a joyful grieving; it’s a slippery slope and it’s very dark.
Family dynamics, strength and a realistic approach on life really determines how people cope with the loss of a loved one. Typically, people who come from dysfunctional homes have a harder time letting go because there wasn’t closure. They are usually the ones who hang on and ask for everything to be done to their loved one because they are hanging on to them. People who had closer relationships, don’t want that person to suffer anymore and let them go because their hearts are full and they are ready.
A lot of people have unfinished business, so how do they get closure? Therese Gibson suggests that they say what they need to say because hearing is the last thing to go.
At the end of life, most of the time you are treating the families (60% family care and 40% patient care). The “treatments” that they do are usually for the family. With Palliative medicine, there is no right or wrong. The patient is going to die with whomever the divine appointment was set.
Anger is typical at the beginning of terminal diagnosis for a patient. Just the concept of leaving your body is pretty scary. The other thing that you see, is that if a person has done some pretty bad things, they are afraid of meeting their maker. Therese says that in the end of life, when she is treating someone who’s done horrible things, she accepts them wholly and that’s what leads to a smooth transition.
It’s important to have the family in agreement. It doesn’t matter if someone was a bad person; when their family comes around and is peaceful, they have a smooth transition. If there is disruption within the family, nothing seems to go right and the patient doesn’t have a smooth transition. Pain can also be attributed to an unsettled family. How many families have internal conflict with our families? It’s a really powerful point to consider.
Therese lost her father at 99 years old. A calm environment, lots of love, and a positive environment was key. Education on accepting that someone is dying and being with that loved one is very important.
If Therese could implore us to do one thing, it would be to love and accept. Even their disease process–don’t be afraid of it.
If you are going through a life ending diagnosis and transition, understand that it can be a beautiful, natural part of life. Or if your loved one is going through it, understand how important it is to let everything go and be there in a space of love and acceptance, making it beautiful for them and for you.
Stay tuned to www.KirstyTV.com for more exclusive and inspiring interviews. We will be sharing inspirational stories from our interviews with everyday people, celebrities and experts every Tuesday and Thursday.