the importance of holding a hand

I believe touch may be the most powerful sense of all.
A gentle touch has the ability to calm us and let us know someone cares.

Did you know that chronically ill people and many aging adults do not receive touch stimuli like a hug, a back rub or even holding a hand?

Take a moment to think about how you would feel if no one ever hugged you or reached for your hand.

Would you feel unloved?
Uncared for?

Yesterday, I had a busy day of errands and tasks to complete. Usually, I am quite annoyed if my plans go awry. If I don’t get to check everything off on my “to do” list, I become quite cranky. But this wasn’t the case when hospice needed me.

I had to drive nearly an hour “out of my way”, using my GPS to guide me to a destination I’ve never seen. I entered doors I’ve never darkened, spoke to people I’ve never met, and had the privilege of holding a stranger’s hand.

A patient needed hospice yesterday, as she makes the transition home. She was comatose, but I sat with her, read scripture to her, spoke to her about the pictures she had around her room and just held her hand. I firmly believe she heard me, just as I believe Chad knew I was there when he was transitioning.

People often ask me why I want to work with hospice:
“I could never do that…isn’t it sad?”

Yes, it is sad. It’s heartbreaking most of the time.
But you know what is even more sad?
The thought of someone being alone, dying. Alone.

If you think there aren’t that many people who are truly alone…think again.
I used to think that everyone has someone — a family member or a friend — that would step up and assist when the need presented itself. But it’s not the way things often work out.

Sometimes, the patient doesn’t have children.
Or their families are busy with their own lives that they don’t fully grasp the fragility of life for their loved ones.
Sometimes, their spouse is older, too; not a suitable situation for taking care of one another.
Sometimes, family members are estranged for unknown reasons.
Sometimes, the patient has been socially withdrawn due to sickness or depression.
Sometimes, the family or friend is dealing with the death process by ignoring it.
Sometimes, a patient’s health decline is rapid – a family doesn’t have time to prepare.
And sometimes, a patient doesn’t say much to their family about their health because they don’t want to worry anyone…

Whatever the reason, it’s important to realize that all families are different. Just because I feel I would handle the death of a loved one in a different way, doesn’t make it the right way.
This has been a struggle for me to accept, especially living amidst an aging population. Many people retire to this area, leaving their families in other states. Then, when an illness strikes, it’s difficult to mobilize family members from multiple states in order to care for a parent (or other relative) that needs help.

It breaks my heart to realize how many people are in need of hospice, in my area alone.
I am eternally grateful for our own journey with hospice and my ability to assist now. It has really changed my outlook on life; the brevity of it all. I understand the importance of things I once took for granted.

Never underestimate the importance of holding a hand.
Never underestimate the ability you have to make a difference to someone.

I’m looking forward to holding many more hands…

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“Your life may be the only bible someone ever reads”

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One Response to the importance of holding a hand

  1. Donna says:

    Beautifully written. You are so special.

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