It is truly God’s work — helping those who are making life’s final transition. Our belief in Jesus Christ buoys us in that we know their earthly suffering is over, but working in an environment where pain and loss are commonplace can take its toll on even the most positive of people.
Last March, Francis House sponsored its first day-long symposium at LeMoyne College in Syracuse, New York. Entitled “Living the Final Chapter: A Symposium for Compassionate Care for Persons at the End of Life,” keynote addresses actually focused on the need for caregivers of the dying to care for themselves.
Dr. Robert Wicks has worked with medical professionals and caregivers across the globe from war-ravaged countries to those working in palliative care settings. Mixing his serious topic with humor and personal anecdotes, Dr. Wicks emphasized the need for caregivers to spend time on self care in order to continue to serve others. “My concern is not that you don’t care enough, but that you care too much,” he told the several hundred attendees. “You are not required to carry all burdens.”
Among Dr. Wicks’ recommendations is that caregivers find a time every day to focus completely on themselves. He told attendees that he spends his time in silence, solitude and gratitude for all the good that he has in his own life. “We are compassionate to others and we need to be compassionate to ourselves as well,” he said.
The day closed out with R. Ann Fitzgerald Ober, RN, PhD, who spoke about how to have healing conversations and difficult conversations by being attentive to non-verbal communications and being present in the conversation — connecting on a sincere personal level at the conversation’s start and conclusion.