Meet Clients Where They Are

grief & loss Mar 06, 2022

As an End-of-Life Practitioner (ELP) intern, Dr. Deerheart is training us to meet clients exactly where they are. I visit weekly with a 95-year-old woman on hospice living in her daughter’s home. When I see her, the experience is always one of discovery.

On one visit, I walked into the room and saw that this lovely woman was awake and alert.  I walked towards her greeting her. Her smiles and laughter told me how special the day had been. For the next hour, she was more talkative and attentive than she had ever been during my visits. 

First, she focused on wanting to get her purse so we could go shopping. I asked her what she wanted to buy and she told me that she needed new clothes. She pointed to her nightgown and said, “These are all I have.” I asked her what she wanted and she said, “Pants.” Then she started talking about shoes acting as if she was looking at them at that very moment. She said, “They are perfect. They will go with everything.” It was delightful to be present with her. 

As an ELP intern, I rely on the skills I am learning in the ELP program and my perception to determine how I can best serve clients. How I support this client varies greatly from visit to visit. For example, one visit I felt that playing her favorite Frank Sinatra would bring her comfort, joy, and peace. Soon she was trying to sing along. On another visit, I took this moment to share some Reiki energy with her and sit in silence holding space for her. During this visit, I learned the lesson of living absolutely present moment by moment. 

All we have in our lifetimes as we journey towards death is this one precious moment. The awe I felt in the celebration of her moments pierced my heart as I left her.