As a Massage Therapist for patients at the end of life, it is my goal to promote comfort and a sense of well-being through gentle touch. According to the American Massage Therapy Association; research shows that massage therapy provides clinical benefits to hospice patients, such as decreased pain and improved quality of life. I have been in the field for almost 30 years and I knew how beneficial massage therapy can be. But what I didn’t expect when I started my work as a Hospice Massage Therapist, is how much I would get back from those I came to serve. Let me explain…
From the moment I enter their world time slows down, what a gift. No one is in a hurry or stressed by time. I feel seen in a way that most of us don’t experience very often in our harried busy lives. We chat about the weather and other small matters, but it feels like a deeper conversation. Sometimes, I will just sit in silence with a patient, either because they cannot speak or by their choice. And I’ve learned that so much can be said in total silence. Many of my patients are elderly and have to rely on others to meet their most basic needs. They have shown me what it means to be vulnerable, to need and ask for help, and most often they do it so gracefully. At this stage in life, they have often endured a lot of loss. Everything from the loss of a job title and the loss of their home, to the loss of the ability to walk and sometimes talk. With such courage and strength, they show me how to just be. Spending time with them reminds me what really matters and gives perspective to my life. I witness all the facets of what it is to be human. Sometimes that means sitting with someone who is in pain, angry or afraid.
I’ve come to see these fragile emotions as beautiful expressions of our human experience, and it is an honor to hold space for whatever arises. And at the end of my visits there is eye contact and a sincere thank you, please come again, and I leave fuller than when I arrived. You see we shared an authentic human connection. And that connection is the greatest gift we can give or receive. This is the gift I receive from my patients every day.
Grace Hospice Massage Therapist