the most helpful act is often simply being present and being responsive.
“Where are you?” he asked.
“In the kitchen,” she said.
“What are you doing?”
“Are you cold?”
It's a pretty ordinary conversation, actually, if the two people are talking on phones, rather than touching. But she was in a hospital bed, clearly not in the garage. And he was standing by the bed, looking at his wife of many years.
The most remarkable thing happened next.
He patted her on the shoulder, sat down, and took a drink of coffee.
No argument. No correcting. No attempts to point out the nurse, the monitors, the chaplain standing near the foot of the bed.
When I complimented him, he explained that his dad had dementia and he’d learned that when a person is fundamentality confused, there is no value in being right.
In the case of his wife, she’ll soon remember when and where she is. When the infection is treated, when the pressure on the brain is relieved, when the sedation wears off. In the case of his dad, the man will have to keep discovering where and when he’ll need to go to join in conversation.
But he’s learned the most helpful act is often simply being present and being responsive.
#hospital #listening #beinghelpfulinloss #chaplaincy