Resting in peace for hospice caregivers and patients
By Ron King
“Rest in Peace” is an epitaph we generally reserve to describe our final destination following death.
What if resting in peace became a goal for the full duration of hospice care? For caregivers, it is common for hospice to be a time of hectic rushing, daily challenges and frantic worry. Responding to every change in breathing, awakening throughout the night, and attending to every symptom; hospice care can be anything but restful at times.
But “rest” describes more than quiet relaxation. It can be a strong tranquility, a silence that makes room for us to hear what’s most important in life. Resting allows priorities to be established and beliefs that make a difference to be remembered. To rest well doesn’t mean to give up or quit. Peaceful resting may involve exercising intense emotional and spiritual energy as well as the physical work of caregiving.
Just as the word “rest” exists in the word “wrestling”, we may be able to find deep spiritual rest in the midst of the hard work of caring for a person who is dying. Even the work of dying may be done in a state of rest, the rest of knowing we are in hands greater than our own, our professional caregivers and physicians.
Stopping to pause, breathe and reflect is the rest we seek in hospice. In the middle of medications, securing medical equipment, and scheduling home health workers, we can still live a restful life. The source of our rest is a deep assurance and confidence that all will ultimately be peaceful. Peace becomes our foundation for resting.
The peace we look for may not be easy, but when it comes, it can be profound. It is a gift. To know that gift, we need the help of others to cope with pain, the prayers of friends to hold us, and our own faith to see what is true, beautiful, and real. As a powerful force, a source of strength and direction, the spirit of peace brings the rest we need. Resting in peace becomes a way of life, not just the relief of being released from life.
Rest well today, in peace, in hope and faith, in loving and being loved.