A recent article by Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, "Transforming End of Life Care through Communication," states something vitally important:
We, as those who want to accompany others through dying, have a 'job' to do which is to listen and hear what a person's goals are for themselves now that they are seriously ill.
So many of us are not keeping this important piece of our service at the forefront of our minds. This is not new information, but something that we need to hear restated in a zillion different ways to keep it ever present. We need to listen carefully to each person we are accompanying. We should not assume that we know what their goals are, even if we feel we already might know them.
Some of us bring out assumptions that are based on our own experience and/or what we read about in end of life literature. But our role is to be one who listens, first and foremost. Don't get so busy thinking of the next thing to say that you miss the cues and requests of those you are serving. Presence and deep listening are so vital.
You may end up being the one who will help them meet these goals for themselves. So by listening, you will know how to help.
Read the above listed article completely and take in what is being said. There are so many differences in how each of us experiences healthcare throughout our lives. This makes a difference when it comes to trusting 'the system' when it is our own end of life time. So much so that this program is editing and adapting their 'conversation protocols' for various groups.
This is important! If there is one area that we should all agree we can continue to learn and grow it is in communicating with others. We all have our blind spots here, that is why it is so huge in our roles. Since the role of an end of life guide/witness/doula/midwife is one of so much 'communicating' (mostly listening with all aspects of ourselves - and there is discernment with action as well), we need to make efforts to grow in this area.
If there was only one training you could ever take to be a great end of life guide, it would be in the area of communication. Forget the death information, forget the rituals class, forget the building a practice piece, forget the medical advocacy strategy - if you could only choose one continuing education type training for life as an end of life guide, this would be it.
Communication training incorporates self-connection, deep listening, discernment, ways to 'hear' from all aspects of a person, and the way to hold space. It may not be dressed up as 'sacred space,' but you get that kind of training here.
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