Pain is a part of life that we can’t avoid and there are many ways in which we can feel pain. A paper cut, a broken bone, aches from aging, stress from broken relationships, or the agony of past wrongdoings. The ways pain enters our lives is innumerable. Some pain is temporary and passes quickly and some pain can affect us our whole life. We often take actions to address our physical pain, but neglect our emotional pain. When we take steps to address every type of pain we are able to increase our quality of life.
“Mental pain is less dramatic than physical pain, but it is more common and also more hard to bear. The frequent attempts to conceal mental pain increases the burden: it is easier to say ‘My tooth is aching’ than to say ‘My heart is broken’.” -C.S. Lewis, The Problem of Pain
Hospice understands that along with the physical pain that is present at the end of life, a person also has emotional and/or spiritual pain. Social Workers, Spiritual Care Providers, and our nursing staff help address all the pain that our patients may be experiencing. Pain touches each person differently. How one person feels pain is not how another person does. Hospice understands this and our team helps identify and address pain so that a person is able to have the most comfortable life and passing as possible.
“I firmly believe that emotional and spiritual pain which left unprocessed is a major contributor to suffering at end of life. As a person, we tend to treat these pains by working a control agenda or we avoid them. Those that make a brave choice to move towards the pain, feel it, and transform it, demonstrate the path of healing.” Explains Garrett Price, MASF, MSCC, LPC, CSD, Senior Vice President of Social Services and Bereavement at Heart ‘n Home.
One of the first ways to manage pain is to recognize it and talk about it. Many people think that talking about their pain is a sign of weakness. Often times they push pain deep inside in an effort to try and forget it, but by talking about our concerns or worries you can address it and start the healing process.
Knowing that you or a loved one is approaching the end of life can cause additional stress and emotional pain. Social Workers and Spiritual Care Providers work with hospice patients and their families to help ease the pain that comes from this emotional stress. Sharla Phelps, LSW, GC-C, Care Navigator with Heart ‘n Home, shares her experience with her patients. “Helping someone with the painful thought that their life is ending is one of the most challenging, but most rewarding parts of my job. Many times the pain comes from leaving this world and all that is here. I have found though, that when you have the courage to face this difficulty, you are able to find peace. I find that peace seems to be a better description than the word acceptance. A lot of my patients have a hard time accepting the fact that they are dying, leaving their family, “giving in” to a disease process but, when we talk about finding peace with the process they are going through, this seems to connect with them.
“Peace” can be defined as “freedom from disturbance; tranquility” (Oxford Dictionary). Synonyms are calm, calmness, restfulness, quiet. Helping someone find this peace, whether it is through writing letters, repeating mantras, using mindfulness and deep breathing, working through difficult issues of forgiveness and life’s purpose, or having conversations with family members that need to be had, is an important work that is invaluable to the end of life experience. Doing this work provides a higher likelihood that the very end days of life will be peaceful.”
The peace that Sharla describes is the ultimate goal for each of our hospice patients and their families. Heart ‘n Home Hospice affirms life by providing emotional, physical, and spiritual support to our patients and to those who love and care for them. September is Pain Awareness Month and a perfect time to talk about pain. To learn more about how hospice helps keep patients comfortable and pain-free, contact us. We can answer any of your questions about how hospice addresses all forms of pain.