The Final Journey --
Complete Hospice Care for Departing Vaisnavas
by Sangita devi dasi (Susan Pattinson, RN, CHPN, Certified Hospice Educator)
Excerpt from Chapter 5:
The Grief Process
The time between diagnosis of a terminal illness and passing away can be filled with significant emotional and spiritual growth -- not only for the patient, but for the caregiver and family members as well. It would be a remarkable achievement if the sense of peace that seems to come with accepting the eventuality of one’s death, or that of a loved one, could be easily gained without a great amount of endeavor. Unfortunately, this is not always the case.
For the patient, coming to terms with one’s imminent death may cause such crippling anxiety that everyday stressors may appear insurmountable. This tension is not exclusive to the patient, but can also be experienced by the caregiver and other family members who may be battling with their own feelings of guilt, anger, resentment, and fear. If you as the caregiver are tired -- even exhausted -- these feelings may not be easily resolved and could lead to overwhelming emotional turmoil. Anyone involved in a hospice situation is encouraged to come to terms with inner conflicts. It also becomes necessary to resolve unsettled conflicts between one another. This internal and external “mending” leads to an appreciation of each other’s association and of the limited time you have with one another. This becomes especially important for devotees.
Fortunately, as Vaisnavas, we have a wealth of spiritual knowledge available to assist in our transcendence of material hardships. But each of us walks alone on our spiritual journey and each of us varies in our needs. For some, caring for a dying loved one and preparing for the inevitable loss of that devotee may create more emotional turbulence than for others. Generally, it is helpful to clear away any emotional pain that may create obstacles in spiritual life. It has been the experience of many senior Vaisnavas in our Krishna consciousness movement that unsettled emotional conflict often surfaces, requiring resolutions years later. For this reason, I have included this chapter in order to provide an understanding of what the terminally ill patient may be experiencing on an emotional level, as well as to assist you, the caregiver, in your emotional and spiritual growth at a time when your strength may often be tested.
(To be continued.)
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