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Death and Self-Care

The thought of everything having an end can be daunting. But is it possible for a daunting truth to generate a healthy balance on living? This month we look at how developing death awareness encourages self-care. And I'll share several thoughts on how to cultivate personal attention using last breath reflections.

Self-care is a popular subject these days. However, by the looks of it self-care is far less of a common practice. We construct our lives to the pulse of a constantly changing culture that pushes us to live fast, fill up every minute of the day with something to do, set higher goals, and strive to attain more than the next person.

It is no wonder that heart disease ranks as one of the top five causes of death in the US. In 2013, heart disease was no. 1, killing over 161,000 people. You'd think that this is enough to cause some revaluation on how we live, but not so.

We are still in a desperate place. While self-care is a solution, we've yet to take it seriously. We continue to race from point A to point B. We take on more tasks than our bodies can sustain. We accumulate more possessions that only add more stress. We push for more until we are on the fringe of breaking, and all in the name of “have to.”

We need something to help commence some form of movement toward self-care. One way to do so is to have a felt sense of the irreversible truth that there is a month, day, hour, and second securely holding our demise.

Learning to Relate to Our Last Breath

Every sentient being must bow to the cycle of life, which includes birth, aging, becoming ill, and eventually death. Birds, cats, dogs, wild animals, and bugs are all subject to this path. Likewise, neighbors, friends, colleagues, teachers, and family members cannot avoid this timetable. We are all bound to experience the same.

Routine reflections on the temporary nature of human existence can encourage us to prioritize personal care. If you were to wake up one morning truly knowing that your days are numbered, how would you relate to the hustle-and-bustle of life?

Would you look at family members and friends in the same way? Would you react the same to the driver tailgating, the impatient customer at the checkout line, the person with a different political opinion, or the person reading this newsletter? We would all slow down some of the judging remarks that we make in our minds and some of the actions we take. Since everything is bound to change—as the season now displays—we would look at just about everything from a kinder place. And this is precisely what self-care entails.

Exercise: Step out into the backyard one morning or after a run just sit. Listen closely to all of the sounds around you. Slowly gaze at everything your eyes can behold, including your body—hands and feet. As you do, quietly repeat to yourself, “These things I see and hear are all passing.” Breathe this truth for a few minutes. Then think of the things outside of your immediate setting—people at work or home, pets, etc. Repeat the same statement thoughtfully. Chances run high that you'll arouse a little more TLC for others, as well as for yourself.




Guest blog post by Kevin Quiles, M.Div., M.A., LPC practices mindfulness and psychotherapy in Roswell, Georgia.

He is the author of Spiritual Care to Elderly and Dying Loved Ones and Conversing with Death: to Build a Better Now and Future. He also developed the practice of Conversing with Death Therapy ®. For more information, go to kevinquiles.com.

Kevin has authored 2 online continuing education courses for Pedagogy Education.

The Role of the Hospice Caregiver, this online course reevaluates the basic understanding of caregiving to achieve balance in this altruistic trade and provides the necessary tools to help the caregiver maintain a healthy balance in the field while providing quality service to patients and their family members.

Whether one is moving into the field of hospice for the first time or is well-seasoned as a professional caregiver, he or she has a significant chance of encountering some surprising hindrances that could mentally eradicate the caregiver’s emotional balance.

The Spiritual and Religious Makeup of the Hospice Caregiver, the purpose of this course is to examine how the healthcare professional’s spiritual and religious makeup influences the role he or she plays in the field of hospice. In studying the fabric of knowledge that transcends science, the course neither labels one religion or practice as good or bad, nor does it deny any claims of spiritual experiences or awakenings. The primary objective of this course is to lay credence to the psychological and cultural factors on spiritual and religious development, and to understand its strengths and limitations as it interacts with the prioritizing value hospice takes in serving a religiously diverse community. Questions the study will entertain here are as follows:
  • How do the professional’s absolute beliefs come about in the first place? Here the development of religious or spiritual ideas is explored only from cultural and psychological perspectives.
  • Are there strengths and limitations to any one perceived universal spiritual or religious belief as it works alongside an organizations’ mindset to deliver equal care to all faiths?
  • How can the professional work around an organization’s mission to a religiously or spiritually diverse community without feeling like he or she has compromised convictions?

While the subject of spirituality or religion is often handed down in hospice to the chaplain, every discipline is still at the forefront of the tugs and pulls fueled by one’s set of beliefs. Thus while this course can benefit all the disciplines, including the chaplain, the audience here is primarily the licensed nurse.

To learn more about Kevin’s courses click on the course titles above, education may also be purchased for an organization by emailing sales@pedagogy-inc.com or giving us a call at 903-871-2150.  Facility purchases of education always include the use of our Learning Management System that allows you complete control and oversight of education.
Posted: 11/4/2015 8:20:40 AM
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