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Understanding the Subtleties of Communicating with a Dying Patient

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inquiry & integration

inquiry instructions

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Inquiry 1:
What is hardest for you to face in yourself when being with a dying patient? 

Personal Integration 1:
This practice can be done alone or with a friend, lover, or counselor. Take one to five minutes or longer to contemplate and answer the question. When done with another, it is essential that the listener remains neutral and encourages you to look deeply into your heart as you visualize being with a patient or family member (whichever is most real to you).  It may be an awkward silence, not knowing what to say, not being able to reassure them about their future.  Perhaps it is your own lack of faith or the patient’s lack of faith that is of greatest concern.  Maybe you haven’t been in this situation before in  a deeply reflective way.    Allow yourself to really visualize being in the bedroom or hospital with this person who appears to have less than two months left to live.  Notice how this affects you emotionally or what state this puts you in.  (i.e. helplessness, silence, mystery, awe, fear, courage, trust, anxiety). If you are with a partner repeat the inquiry as needed to help maintain focus.  As much as possible, freely express your inner experience and inner dialogue.

Inquiry 2:
What are the key insights that would help you be with a dying patient in a sensitive way?  Let them be spoken in your own words.

Personal Integration 2:
Take some time with yourself or another to see the benefits of opening in this way, repeatedly asking yourself or being asked this key question.  Allow yourself to absorb the insights in the video, and integrate your life experience as well.  Let yourself visualize either someone close to you, or an unrelated patient who is dying, whoever is more real for you.  Let yourself be so in the moment as this question resonates that you are open to being surprised by the answers. 


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Since 1972, Humanistic Spirituality founder Robert Strock has maintained a private spiritual and therapeutic counseling practice that specializes in purposeful living, relationships, spiritual psychology, and death and dying counseling. Humanistic Spirituality provides various spiritual workshops, guided mediations, and licensed marriage family therapists and licensed social work continuing education courses. Contact us to learn how we can help you find inner peace and spiritual awareness through our counseling, or our free guided meditations, videos, audios, writings, introspective guises and more. A warm welcome from the team at Humanistic Spirituality.

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