I think therefore I am? – A definition of Grace

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http://www.flickr.com/photos/144232185@N03/30117339256″>PARMIGIANINO,1534-35 – Deux Canéphores se donnant la Main (Louvre INV6466)

In healthcare it is important to set clear boundaries in order to care for yourself and your patients in a sustainable fashion. In the practice of palliative care, boundary setting is even more important, as the therapeutic relationship can be very intense and intimate at times. We have to keep in mind that this relationship will likely end soon, with the death of our patient. It can be a difficult balancing act; using your humanity to make important connections with another human being; while at the same time keeping professional distance to protect the both of you.

That being said, it is inevitable that there will be some cases which will hit you harder than others. When a deeper connection has been made, you will feel the loss and grief much more strongly. Informal reflection with your team members and professional supervision have an important role to play in keeping us palliative care providers safe to continue doing the important job that we have to do. We need to remind ourselves that this is a job that not everyone in healthcare can handle. That those of us who chose to work in palliative care, owe it to ourselves and our patients to look after ourselves. We are a precious resource and if we do not take care of ourselves, we will deny our patients and their families the difference that we can make in their lives, and deaths.

After almost ten years of working exclusively in full-time palliative care practice I would like to share a case that reminded me of just how human I am, and how much value I obtain from professional supervision and from sharing with my team members.

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Living with grief & loss: #PallANZ chat

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Grief and loss is something we will all face at different times throughout our lives. Whether it is the death of our pets, our friends, our children, siblings or parents; the experience and expression of grief in response to these losses can be a very personal and individual thing. Grief can also arise in anticipation of loss. For those living with life-limiting illness, living with the loss of social role and professional identity can be especially challenging.

Thoughts about old, new and future losses can be particularly common during the festive season. For some of us, it may represent an anniversary of the death of a loved one, and bring with it painful memories of loss. Some might be facing their first Christmas ‘alone’, while others may be grappling with the possibility of celebrating their ‘last Christmas’.

While living with grief and loss is a personal experience, we don’t have to endure it on our own. As a community, there are many ways that we can support each other. Join Palliverse and Palliative Care Australia CEO Liz Callaghan (@PCACEO) to reflect on 2016 and talk about grief and loss.

Carers and people with palliative care needs are especially welcome, as are health professionals, researchers, policymakers and interested community members!

If you are new to twitter and tweet chats, see our “idiot’s guide” here: https://palliverse.com/2014/09/03/idiots-guide-to-twitter-for-health-professionals-twitter-101/

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Palace of Care – Driving too fast

It had all happened so fast, much too fast. Unwell on Tuesday, into hospital on Wednesday. It was all bad news, he was told that he had only possibly a week or two to live. Confronted with his imminent mortality he decided to go to Hospice. He was worried about how his family would cope with him at home, he wanted to make sure that they would be looked after.

They had always done everything together as a couple, right from when they were teenagers. They had made all the important decisions together. But when it came to the decision to go to Hospice he had made it on his own.

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#PallANZ tweet chat

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Grief and loss is something we will all face at different times throughout our lives. Whether it is the death of our pets, our friends, our children, siblings or parents; the experience and expression of grief in response to these losses can be a very personal and individual thing. Grief can also arise in anticipation of loss. For those living with life-limiting illness, living with the loss of social role and professional identity can be especially challenging.

Thoughts about old, new and future losses can be particularly common during the festive season. For some of us, it may represent an anniversary of the death of a loved one, and bring with it painful memories of loss. Some might be facing their first Christmas ‘alone’, while others may be grappling with the possibility of celebrating their ‘last Christmas’.

While living with grief and loss is a personal experience, we don’t have to endure it on our own. As a community, there are many ways that we can support each other. Join us to talk openly about living with grief and loss.

TOPIC                    Living with grief and loss

DATE / TIME       10th December, 2015 @ 1900 AEDT

MODERATOR     @Elissa_Campbell

T1 Have you experienced grief and loss? How would you describe it? And what did you need from those around you?

T2 How do children live with grief and loss? How are they different from adults?

T3 What kinds of support are there for people living with grief and loss in your community?

T4 As a community and as individuals, how can we better support those living with grief and loss during the festive season?

Elsewhere in the Palliverse – Weekend Reads

photo by David Mao itsdavo

Welcome to the 23rd edition of Elsewhere in the Palliverse. I hope you find value in this week’s links about palliative care and research – complete with animal story.

You’re welcome, animal-lovers.

As always, please share your thoughts in the comments.


Brand new blog DocGrief is “a dedicated space for health professionals to reflect and explore our relationship with death and grief, particularly when personally affected by a death in the family.” It was started by a rural GP based in South Australia. Her first post is heartfelt and I am following with interest. Continue reading

Elsewhere in the Palliverse – Weekend Reads

photo by David Mao itsdavoI have a few palliative care links to share this week. If you’re not satisfied, we also share links on our Facebook page and Twitter account (you don’t need your own Twitter account to see what we’re posting), and you can check out our Elsewhere in the Palliverse archives.

At the End of Life Studies blog, Dr Naomi Richards examines the question, “Is the voluntary refusal of food and fluid an alternative to assisted dying“?

Talking About Dying Won’t Kill You, says Palliative Care Australia, writes comedian Jean Kittson (Sydney Morning Herald)

And a palliative care nurse told me that day after day she visited a person dying at home and day after day she walked into a house full of scented candles and rainforest music, until one day she said “Is anyone else sick of these scented candles?” and the family said “Yes”.  “And is anyone else sick of this rainforest music?” And the family said “Yes”. So the nurse said “Well, let’s open some windows, and what music does your mum like? OK, let’s put on some Stones.”

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Elsewhere in the Palliverse…weekend reads

Reads for your weekend from across the Palliverse…

How to determine the order of authorship in an academic paper (@paulisci)

Presenting your research findings at a meeting? Here are some useful tips to improve your delivery (Lifehacker)

As I walk through hospital corridors, I’m always grateful for the beautiful artworks displayed. However, I don’t often stop to consider the themes portrayed. Art columnist Jonathon Jones asks, Should hospital art be jolly – or should it portray the truth about pain? (The Guardian). Meanwhile, More hospitals use the healing power of art (Wall Street Journal). What are your thoughts? Continue reading