The Seasons Of Our Lives

Author: Stephenie Bernal, Social Worker

A couple of weeks ago while driving to work I noticed for the first time this year that the trees were starting to turn colors.  I absolutely love autumn and the changes it brings!  I am always amazed by nature’s beauty this time of year.  I never tire of gazing upon the gorgeous bold tree colors of yellows, golds, oranges, and reds.  Like many others I delight in the cooler temperatures this season brings as well.  On the drive that morning however, my focus wasn’t on nature but on the week ahead.  Thinking about what patients I would see, what they may share with me and how I could help, lead to thoughts about the seasons of our lives.

So many times we have heard people refer to the different seasons of our lives.  When I was a much younger woman I found that it was harder for me to relate to people in a different season than the one I was in.  I think perhaps this is because as we age we have more experiences to draw upon.  Our perspective grows and we become more sensitive to the needs of others.  This type of sensitivity is a crucial characteristic for those of us involved in providing hospice care services.

While visiting with a patient in her eighties a few weeks ago I was profoundly struck by a. comment she made to me.  She has lived a full life; served in the military, married, raised a family.  She has children and grandchildren that visit her regularly yet she will tell you that she’s ready to “go home.”  Many patients, I have found, say that meaning they are ready for Heaven.  She has even shared with me that there have been times when she’s awakened in the morning and was disappointed that she was still here.  She said she’d been praying and asking for God to take her home.

Maybe sometimes living in the last season of life is more difficult than dreaming about what that next chapter in Heaven will be like.  I think possibly for this patient that is her reality.  She is living in an Assisted Living Facility because of her disease process which produced confusion that made it unsafe for her to continue living alone in her apartment.  She’s only been there a few months and is still adjusting.  It’s been a very hard transition for her.  So what did she say that so profoundly affected me?

“I still can’t believe that I would ever wind up like this living in half a room.”  It seems in our culture we spend our whole lives building, striving, doing, moving forward, until suddenly one day our health falls apart and it’s like hitting a brick wall for many of us!  Oftentimes without much warning we are forced to move into new accommodations with strangers, no longer having control over our own schedules or activities, or even what we’ll eat or drink.  Maintaining a positive attitude and outlook would be challenging for many of us under similar circumstances!

As we consider the seasons of our lives, let us be sensitive to the realities of those seasons in the lives of those we serve and to the various needs they have.  And let us as hospice caregivers, give all that we can to help make each season of each one of their lives as dignified, meaningful, rich and full as it can possibly be!  After all, we may each be there ourselves someday, and isn’t that what we would want in our final season?

Fall Path

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