chapter  9
2 Pages

Com pas sion ate Ther apies

Within these pages, you will be introduced to various therapies in the care of the dying and grieving person. An increasing number of support and self-help groups include these therapies in their services and many hospices offer them as well. By definition, “holism” recognizes the important relationship between a whole and its parts. Growing attention is being given to the psychological, emotional, and spiritual needs of dying and grieving people and not only the physical needs. These compassionate therapies help improve quality of life and enhance overall well-being, as well as give symptom relief. They act as an antidote to stress and anxiety, resulting in better sleep and better tolerance of medical procedures. In particular, because of the unconditional acceptance of the therapist or caregiver, the treatments aid relaxation and ease distress, thus helping dying patients acknowledge and accept their changing circumstances. Compassionate therapies view each person as an individual and aim to treat the whole person and not simply suppress specific symptoms. They seek internal balance and respect natural processes, including aging and dying. Much importance is placed on relaxation and visualization exercises. These therapies can ease mental stress through bodywork such as massage and reflexology. Reiki healing art channels universal life energy to promote spiritual, mental, and physical well-being. Touch isn’t necessary to transfer healing energy from the practitioner to the client, though Reiki is often described as a “laying-on of hands.” Some people experience warmth from the touch of the Reiki practitioner; others feel a tingling or pulsing sensation; some simply report an expanded sense of peace and relaxation. Aromatherapy has gone from a fun olfactory pastime to something much more serious. Scented candles, oils, and home-fragrance sprays are not big business-not just a fad. When patients decide to use these techniques, it is often their way of exercising freedom of choice and autonomy. It may offer them a way of expressing themselves and coming to terms with their death. And, music therapy? Music soothes the soul of the dying patient. Compassionate therapies are also beneficial for the caregiver. For doctors and nurses, it is an opportunity to develop and use skills of touch, caring, and intensive one-to-one treatment which may be missing in the normal clinical setting. For family members, using therapies such as massage may be a way of enabling them to do something in an otherwise futile situation. Below is a list of compassionate therapies.