“You know it’s common; all that lives must die, passing through nature to eternity” (Hamlet: Act 1, scene 2)
We must all ‘shuffle off this mortal coil’, and yet people still find it hard to talk about death. I can and do appreciate the reasons why.
However, within the role of Personal Care Assistant you will be working with some people that are facing their own. This needs thinking about as we will have to be able to respond to their needs as they arise, in responding that may mean that we have to face our own mortality, our own views of death and dying.
It may be that a person doesn’t fear death, they fear the way they may die. They may not want to suffer the indignity of dying, they may fear the process of it or they may not want to suffer it alone.
They may be faced with regrets, unfinished business or a bucket list that they keep adding to and want to keep going as long as they can.
We need to be able to talk with people about death and about dying, we need to be able to support people in making plans, sorting things out, ticking off items on their bucket list.
We need to be open to facing issues with people and not supporting their avoidance of it just because it helps us to avoid it. I’m not saying that you need to sit down with somebody and say “We need to talk about death”. Or “Have you sorted out your will yet?” That would be, to put it politely, insensitive. We just need to be open about talking about it when your client wants to.
It may be that your client has just lost a partner or a friend and is grieving themselves, you will need to be open to support them too.
As I said before it will help us if we have sorted things out in our heads about our own ‘mortality’ and become self aware of our own thoughts and feelings on the subject. This is not being morbid, it’s being sensible. We need to be a position where we can support people without being vulnerable ourselves.
Working though issues is best done in a partnership and not alone.