Will You Honour Me?

 

I love my friends and family, and I am deeply grateful for their support, prayers, and kindness. However, as they show their love in their own unique ways, sometimes it comes with advice, judgement, and criticism. I know that everyone truly cares and wants to be supportive; but it comes couched in an expression of how we should be doing things differently. People feel compelled to share how we should be making other choices about our care and journey.

So, please dear family and friends, honour me by listening, as I speak from my heart about this journey; and how I see things quite differently than you.

Yes, this is one of the most arduous, painful, and deeply exhausting journeys I have embarked upon. But this is a journey I chose, and this is a journey that my parents have also chosen.

I understand and believe that we come into this world to find the magnificence of who we are, and to do so we make our life choices, and we choose our journey. I believe our lessons in life, including those most painful, are our points greatest points of transformation. While this aspect of my life’s journey may be the most arduous yet, this traumatic experience is what is cultivating my utmost transformation. We (my parents and I), are involved in the depths of our transitions and transformations. We are working through our ancient family karma, our paradigms, and our beliefs- about ourselves, our lives, our meaning and purpose, and about the greater aspects of who we are, and how we are (or not) supported through divinity. Thus, our collective karma and drama is being played out, and it is a decision we made together. We chose this so that we may move through the depths of our personal karmic hell, in order to rise to find the exquisite light, love, and divinity we share within ourselves and together as a small collective family of light.

Through the pain and anguish of this journey, I am discovering the expanse of my love and compassion, my light and soul. I am discovering the exquisite goddess within me that I have hidden for so very long. I am discovering the immense capacity that I hold to love in the depths of suffering, for myself and for others. And while I do so, I am constantly considering and discovering how I might honour myself and my parents more; how I might care for myself and them more; and how I will balance my well being and theirs in every single moment. I am holding this collective with the deepest of love, honour, and respect that I can manifest.

My balance and wellbeing comes in small moments of deep meditative chanting, taking a brief walk outside, spending time with my animals, or capturing the sunrise and sunset. My balance comes from reading the teachings of Buddha, from meditating at ridiculously early am hours, and sharing from my soul with writing to those who will listen.

So, dear friends and family, will you honour me by allowing me to dive deeply into this transformation, to love and to transform through it? Will you honour me, by respecting my decisions and choices, knowing that I have my own balance and wellbeing, and that of my parents in the forefront of my mind? Will you honour me, respect me, and love me enough to offer your love, prayers, energy, and support with the understanding that this is my journey and choice through my paradigm and belief system and not yours? I love myself enough, to allow this process to unfold, and to do so with as much love and grace as I can share. Blessings.

Anguish of the Soul

 

These last few days with mom have been the hardest days we have experienced together. She has transitioned into inconsolable fear, anguish, and despair. For days she has cried- deep heavy sobs; the kind of primal anguish that rises from the depths of the soul, and unleashes all that has been stored there for centuries. Her anguish moved me to heart break, as I lay next to her, rocked her, and did all I could to soothe her pain. There were no words, no actions, and no medications that eased the despair that arose from such depths. Hours, and hours of this suffering, was more than I could bear; yet she continued. Somewhere in the midst of this experience, an intuition arose. and I then knew that her suffering had to do with deeply unresolved issues with her parents. I gently asked mom questions in such a way, that the answers arose; and it was clear- she was desperate to share her feelings with her parents. She needed to tell her parents how much she loved them, how much she needed them, and how grateful she was for their care of her. Yet she could not do this, because in her mind- she could not figure out how to go home to them. (they have passed, yet she believes they are alive). So her anguish was because she needed closure with them, and she needed it so badly she begged for even an hour with them. As my understanding and intuition became clearer, my inner guidance offered a temporary solution- suggest that she speak to the stars and the heavens as if they would hear her from wherever they may be, and thus she could tell them what needed to be said. In her current state, she was willing to consider this solution. Sobbing, through broken words, she looked up at the ceiling (with the stars on it), and shared her love for her father. She told him how much he meant to her, and she thanked him for taking such good care of her. Next, she struggled, as she shared her love for her mother. However, mixed within those words, she stated that she was thought she was being punished and not allowed to come home” for being naughty. Her fear was that her mother was angry with her, and this was fueling her despair. I did not know at this time, that she was not able to see either of her parents prior to their deaths; thus she never had a chance to share her feelings with them and say goodbye. I learned this later from my father. She made decisions at the time of their deaths, that she is regretting now.

These last few days of profound despair, have been an agonizing journey for her to find closure with her parents. What has torn my heart wide open, is to watch her suffer so severely, along with the effort it has taken from me to try and ease her suffering. In my profession, I have extensive experience with end of life care and hospice, and although I have seen much despair and pain; I can truly say her emotional and existential suffering is beyond what I have experienced in the field. I don’t think its just because she is my mother that I say this. I observe her existential suffering as enormously painful, and it is a challenge in any patient to support, guide, and process. We have medications for physical pain, we have marginal medications for emotional pain; yet we have nothing for existential pain; there is no magic pill to ease that level of suffering.

Our efforts were love. We comforted, cried, hugged, massaged, held, laughed, and sang. Through tears and unparalleled exhaustion, from my father, neighbors, and me; we offered love and gentle support in letting go of the pain. Through it all, the deepest of her fears were met with love. I saw my mother in her light as a child: I saw her love for her parents, and I saw her desires to be ” a good girl”, to be loved and accepted. Most importantly, I saw her light as a wise woman, an angelic being: as she brought the power from the depths of her soul forward, to meet her fears, searching to find a way forward; to honour herself and her family. My incredible mother, suffering so horrendously, in order to make things right. With the help of divine light, our lovely neighbors, and the hospice team, we have achieved a little resolution for her and found a small bit of peace.

Holding Sacred Space

Standing and holding a sacred space for our journey together brings moments of sadness interspersed with moments of happiness. It is so hard to honour this journey when her struggles are so real, so profound, and so very heart breaking. Those of us with clear mind can recognize the reality from the illusion, but she cannot. Her stories bring such pain to her, and such fear. The balance of medication to alleviate her distress brings greater withdrawal and somnolence. As I ponder on her struggles, I find my admiration for her strength, resilience and determination to grow each day. She faces such cruelty within her mind, yet she emits such power in her attempts to reach out and find the familiar. We are finding new ways to offer love, and we are holding our time together as sacred. Not every moment is easy, not every moment, can I be all that I am. But, I know that in each moment, I have offered love, honour, dignity, and peace as much as I am able. If all that I ever do in this life is to offer love and compassion, then I will have made a difference in this world.

Deeper Within

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It has been quite awhile since I last posted our journey. This journey together has taken us all deeper into ourselves, our fears, and stripped away every ounce of ego and identity we each held. Momma has fewer moments of lucidity and spends much of her existence within her inner world fighting her fears and long held worries. Her reality is based on what she perceives in the very moment, and she is transforming herself as she slips between the worlds of here and life within the realms of heaven. She is remarkably resilient and holds firmly and steadfast to a time that is slipping away. Dad has begun his journey into the world of the unknown having never fully recovered his memory prior to his surgery. He has shifted though, into a place of gentle peace and contentment finding more happiness in the simpler moments. He has been extraordinary in his ability to meet my mother in her moment to moment needs, mostly remaining calm and always reintroducing himself to her. He has learned to laugh and be accepting of her repeated questions of who he is and when did he arrive. He has shown an aspect of himself that is truly gentle, tender and heart full. These are aspects less frequently seen as we were growing up. All of these experiences move us more deeply into ourselves, who we truly are, and how we have come together to transform us into even higher compassion beings. I could not see this nor understand it before, but I certainly do now. What an amazing, yet arduous journey into the true light of love and self and combined selves. 💜🕉💜

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“What A Mean God”

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We cannot imagine the depth of another’s despair, until we are met with it face- to -face. We cannot imagine the depth of another’s suffering, until we sit in the presence of it, and meet it with our full heart and consciousness.

My mother has reached a place of frailty and debilitation in her cognitive decline, that her only experience now is one of anguish and suffering. She no longer has awareness of her personal or family history, and retains only fragments of her parents and sister. Within these fragments, her strongest belief is that she has been abandoned, by her family, and that she has lost her home and all that she has cherished.
My mother now spends her days emotionally distraught, in anguish over the family and home she has lost, and she is left with profound grief and anguish. She strongly believes that her mother and father are alive and that she must go back home to them. In some deep and cryptic way, I believe this is her way of stating she wants to return to a place that was safe and known to her.
Alzheimer’s disease has seven stages of progression, my mother is in the sixth stage. She has lost all personal and family history and memory, and she has substantial cognitive, behavioural, and physical decline. I believe, for my mother.. this is the most brutal state she can be in.. She has a few brief moments of lucidity, tempered with profound ongoing grief and suffering. Within her blank canvas of her mind, she believes she has been abandoned by her parents and family, her husband, and children. She is mourning the loss of her parents daily, both of whom died 30 years ago. Her grief is real, and tragic. She cannot be easily consoled, and does not respond to redirection, distraction, or other means to move her single focus. Today, as most days; she cried all day. But today, she shifted the blame of her suffering to God. She rarely speaks of her beliefs and her religion. She feels that her church and religion abandoned her years ago, and with that she has held her anger in check towards the church. Today however, she lashed out.. against God. In her ongoing grief and mourning of her parents, she cried out at how she has lost her family, her home, and everything that meant something to her. In that moment, she cried out “What a mean God.. to do this to her”, followed by “What a mean man”. This took her to a new level of despair and sorrow. one more penetrating than all her other sorrows. God has abandoned her, along with everyone else. There are few words or actions that bring comfort to such statements and feelings, and perhaps she is be right. She has suffered, and she has lost everything that gives meaning to who she is, and to her life. Lashing out at God, is a reasonable response. What words or actions do I have that will soothe such a response? I sat with her, cried with her, stroked her hair and head, held her hand, and told her how much she was loved, and how we would keep her safe. There was nothing more I could offer.. she is right, every aspect of her being has been stripped away. And she cannot accept that, how could anyone? She is mourning and her grief goes on without end. So let her fight back if she must.

I hate this disease. I hate how it challenges the core of who we are as conscious beings, every day, every moment. I hate that it is so brutal in its actions. I understand this disease, I understand this process. I have been trained to respond better and well, and often I cannot. Because none of that training and wisdom can hold a candle to the agonizing, brutal, sense of profound loss, existential pain and suffering experienced all day long, every day without end. All I want for my mother, is peace. And when she has that, we will learn to find our sense of peace again too.

Honouring grief

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Published: July 24, 2018

Grief is a deeply personal and devastating emotional process that we all must honour. We grieve for the losses in our lives of what we cherish. In a dementia patient, this grief can be a wholly different kind of experience. There is a freshness to the experience that can produce profound suffering, because there is altered understanding of the loss, due to brain cell death . The loss of many memories in dementia can contribute to “fresh grieving” for an event which happened long in the past. This “fresh grieving” process may enhance suffering of all losses, because of the inability to understand or accept that this “fresh loss” is not new; all while it’s being experienced as such.

We are in the midst of just such a process. My mother each day is reliving the death of her parents, both of whom died 30 or more years ago. She is unable to understand, accept, or retain that these are not new losses within her life; thus daily she re-lives this suffering. Her suffering is compounded during more lucid moments, because it is within those moments of lucidity, her awareness reminds her of all the cognitive loss she experiences. Then the experiences become all encompassing grief – interspersed with moments of recognition when nearly all she cherished has vanished. Daily we struggle as she re-experiences her parents deaths, through complete emotional devastation.

How do you soothe the soul in such constant suffering and grief? How do you hold their heart, when there is little to no understanding to bring soothing or comfort? She feels lost and alone in this world, and in truth she is. We can not rewrite her memories, we cannot make them be retained. All experiences are fresh, which can be a profound burden. Our honouring of her grief lies in our ability to hold her heart in every moment, never letting go.

Suffering in Caregiving: Dementia Care

There is a world of loving, compassionate human beings who are being swallowed whole in their care giving of their loved ones with dementia. This is a plight that is infrequently addressed, often misunderstood, and devastating physically, emotionally, and financially. I ask you to open your hearts, hear these words and understand the millions of caregivers (predominantly women) who are suffering moment by moment, daily.; and often doing so with little to no support of any kind.
I could not have written these emotional words any better than as stated by Nancy, a caregiver.  Shared with her permission:

“My purpose in life these days is to help others in any way that I can. This has evolved from a steady stream of awareness in the past few years as to how much suffering really is going on behind the scene. There is certainly no bragging to be had in caregiving if it is to be taken seriously. Today I see a real issue that is ignored consistently, so I now take the opportunity of speaking out for others. We KNOW that dementia, Alzheimer’s or just being chronically ill with a serious disease is just devastating.. but my focus in this post is not on the occasional but on the, many times forgotten, long-term, there-every-day, caregiver.

Obviously the satisfaction of truly helping the helpless is a HUGE reward for the caregiver. Many times, though, this emotion can be overshadowed and tripped up by the devastation and the havoc it can play out on the life of the person who cares. Really, only another person who has lost a huge portion of their life… physical, emotional, financial, psychological .. to being a caregiver can truly understand how that can affect and devastate every aspect of the their life for years to come. Please allow this to be a not-so-subtle hint as to what a caregiver suffers! The amount of time taken to care-give renders a huge black hole in the lifetime of the person who cares for another, and affects the outcome for the rest of their lives. It’s like we were taken out of ourselves and tortured for that period of time, which then ends with a lifetime of trying and struggling to regain.

Emotionally, it is being taken away from the things we loved, things that were important to us, events we would have experienced for happiness and enjoyment. Family memories that were not made… grandchildren special events that were missed, lost forever. Being able to take care of even our homes. Financial or educational opportunities.. gone. You watch life move on without you. Self worth takes a huge hit, especially, as the loved one we cared for resents us for “controlling” their life, many times throwing crippling accusations at you that you can never forget. Having your loved one seemingly “turn” on you is one of the most devastating things that can happen to you! Consistently being accused of doing things for them that “they could do themselves” … though clearly they could not, creates a hurt that cannot be described unless you have gone through it. The emotion of being deserted by almost everyone, not just the loved one that you are trying to help, is awful. You just can’t understand how others can do this to you and it dawns on you how very little you really seemed to mean to them. You watch them go on with a normal, productive life while you are suffering, many times calling out in every way for help, yet you are left alone. To be fair, these people are sometimes clueless, but the problem is up there in their faces, so there is no excuse to not pay attention and try to help to resolve the issue. The caregiver’s life is almost always depressing… every day! The blackness of chronic illness, dementia or Alzheimer’s is staggering, cutting to the core a relative that dearly loves their parent/spouse and is trying to care for them. Daily it is a struggle to maintain your self worth, which finally just gets eroded away. The sick person will also spread negative things around about you any time they get a chance. Most people are wise enough to see through this, but some don’t. Suddenly you can be the one who is suspect and many times the subject of malicious gossip!

The caregiver, many times loses the ability to maintain financial stability. If they continue to try to work, it usually ends in either being fired or many times in a mental or emotional breakdown. The stress of trying to work at a job and care for an emotionally and physically damaged loved one is just horrific. Watching others thrive and flourish who could be helping you, and are not, is a pathway to such crippling bitterness that is takes much prayer and many years, if ever, to heal.

Please, if you know someone who is caring for their loved one, be aware that they are most certainly struggling. You could ask them what they need or if there is anything you can do for them. There may not be much you can do to help, but at least you can listen. Even the smallest act from you could be huge for them. If you are a family member and there IS more you can do, and you don’t… well, that is between you and God and it probably won’t be good when you finally do meet Him. Taking advantage of the caregiver by not pulling your share or being just absent, has no integrity.

To the precious caregiver who is struggling, it is not lost to recognition from every single one of us who know. Those of us who have sacrificed and have given of ourselves know the dynamics of this thing. You are a remarkable and exceptional person! Pull yourself up and know that you are a sterling example of a human being, and you should know that your worth soars above anything. This is just a season for the honing of your character. Life does eventually go on.

I am part of an online caregiving group. The pain and suffering from these people is astounding! It is heart-wrenching to read what they are going through and the hurt they are experiencing. It is truly a phenomenon but is, unfortunately, typical. The value and well-being of a caregiver is pretty much ignored by everyone involved… unless, that is of course, someone has gone through it too. I will have to add also that just because you don’t hear from the suffering caregiver, doesn’t mean that they are OK. Many times they just give up trying to reach out, so they suffer in silence.

Of course we love our family and will do anything for them, but it can be dangerous and life-threatening to decide to be a caregiver. Rarely do you find someone “easy” to care for, though I know that does exist. Mostly it is not. Even if your loved one is compliant, the job can be grueling, depending on how much care they need. Make sure you line up as much assistance and help that you can get before entering into this task. Set parameters. This should not be casually entered in to. There are MANY rewards but pre-planning can save a lot of heartache!”

As human beings, our core holds the values of love and compassion. Yet these values do not seem to come forward from family members towards the caregivers of loved ones with Alzheimer’s disease and Dementia. It is an unexplained dynamic, that leads to prolonged suffering and loss for both the patient with the disease and the primary caregiver.   Offer your love and support for those who are caregivers for someone with Dementia.

The Sacred Soul of Medicine: The Compassionate Healer

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In one brief moment, an exchange of compassion, understanding, and respect from a health care provider, can not only change an entire experience for a patient; it may mean the difference between recovery and healing, or complications and death.

Allison was a 24 year old young woman suffering from an inherited genetic connective tissue disorder that leads to joint hypermobility, skin hyperelasticity or laxity, and tissue weakness. One of Allison’s significant challenges with her disease was profound disabling pain. She had established a long term (6 year) health care relationship with a primary medical physician who understood the complexity this disease placed on her daily life, and thus her disease was relatively well managed in his care. The physician had made referrals to a clinic specializing in connective tissue disorders, but the wait list for a new patient appointment was nearly 18 months in length. Therefore, Allison relied heavily on the health care relationship with her primary physician. However, earlier this year, her primary physician retired and she was sent to another medical provider in the same clinic for continued management.  Even though that provider had access to all of her records along with treatment management plans; their first visit fell apart completely. Allison arrived to her appointment in severe pain, with her mother Margaret for support.  Allison explained her pain and reviewed her use of medications to control the pain, and she then informed the provider that her narcotic was due for renewal, with only a few pills left.  The provider promptly refused to renew her narcotics, and in fact stated that she was “drug seeking” implying she was abusing drugs.  Allison began to fall apart emotionally, and her mother stepped in to support her. Margaret outlined to the provider the history of Allison’s disease, the severity of her pain with its degree of debilitation, and how the only way the pain had been effectively managed was with the regular scheduled dosing of narcotic. Margaret further explained their history of trying other approaches (medical and non medical), all of which had not been successful. She further explained that they still had an 18 month wait to see the specialists for a detailed plan of treatment for her connective tissue disease.  The medical provider, while seemingly listening to their comments, would not acknowledge their validity, and again refused to renew the narcotic. He was adamant that Allison was “drug seeking” and in fact, he then stated that he intended to document this in her records; such that if she went to any other provider for treatment or relief, it would be evident she was in fact “drug seeking”.  There was a complete dissolution of any relationship between Allison, Margaret and this provider, with no establishment of rapport, respect, and common ground.

By the time Allison arrived home from the appointment she became overwhelmed with anxiety and fear. She screamed at her mother, acting out her fears and worry towards Margaret, as if her mother was to blame for the outcome at the appointment. As the next few days wore on, Allison’s distress moved into a state of debilitating pain. She ran out of her narcotic, and her pain was unbearable. This downward cycle led to a loss of sleep and a deeper state of depression than had already been present. Her chronic illness was spiraling out of control. Margaret was equally distraught and immediately did what she knew to do, she sought out solutions. She made inquiries into other medical providers, called friends who could connect her with specialists in other states, and sought natural treatments to help manage Allison’s pain.  As the days progressed, Margaret was also in tears. She could find little support, and she made an effort to rebuild a relationship with Allison’s primary physician. This meeting was not successful with her leaving feeling he could not listen or understand their concerns. Margaret was finally able to find another medical provider who agreed to meet with Allison, after learning of the difficulties. But, by this point, Allison was no longer able to cope. Allison stated that any reserve of energy she may have had to survive on a daily basis was gone. Any hope she may have had for a future state of wellness was gone. All that remained for Allison, was the will to die. She could no longer face the debilitating condition of her body, and the associated pain. When the single treatment that had allowed her to have some semblance of stability was removed by a physician who seemed to not care or understand, her world crashed.  She made an attempt to kill herself, unsuccessfully.

While this story may seem dramatic, unreal, or rare; in fact it is not. The degree of instability and tenuousness in the health care patient-physician relationships sits right on the edge of despair for many individuals.  While there were many factors that contributed to the above scenario, there is one known factor here; that had a respectful and compassionate health care relationship been established where both the provider and patient achieved some common ground and understanding, then it is very likely the patient would have had a more beneficial outcome.

Research evidence is clear, that the quality of a patient’s health is directly related to quality of the patient-physician relationship. There are four types of patient-physician communication problems that are most likely to lead to legal action by the patient: 1) deserting the patient, 2) devaluing the patient’s views, 3) delivering information poorly, and 4) failing to understand the patient’s perspective (Schleiter, 2009).   However, when the patient feels they are perceived as being “known as a person”, meaning that the physician understands them as a unique human being or is empathetic; the patient is more likely to be more satisfied with their care and have greater improvement in their medical condition (Beach 2006, DelCanale 2012, Ha 2010).

Our health care system fails us, and one key reason is due to misplaced focus. Technological advances in medicine have created extraordinary opportunities for understanding disease, treatment and outcomes, yet come with overshadowing directives to reach quotas, financial goals, and health care profits. Along with that, are the incredible stresses placed upon health care providers to achieve so much in such a short time.

What has become lost in health care, is the “sacred soul” of medicine: the medical provider as healer. One who recognizes the sacredness that lies in the deeper understanding that we each are unique, complex, interconnected persons. The sacred soul of medicine has wisdom that lies not only in the depth of understanding medical disease; but lies in reverence of the complexity of the emotional, spiritual, cultural, physical, financial, and environmental facets that contribute to an individual’s illness. The sacred soul of medicine is the Compassionate Healer.

The Compassionate Healer understands, that health and healing must begin in the first exchange with a patient and be carried out through every interaction. The Compassionate Healer recognizes that as human beings, we all carry with us a lifetime of influences, beliefs, traditions, and responses; and that when we follow our basic human nature of kindness, we engender more powerful, meaningful and harmonious relationships.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama, has dedicated his life to living with and teaching compassion; and he emphasizes the following points on bringing compassion into health care relationships (Mayo 2016):

  • treat everyone the same (recognizing we are all equal)
  • educate the sense of oneness (we are all human beings, emphasizing our sameness rather than our differences)
  • promote human value
  • offer kindness and love

How do we train and support the Compassionate Healer in healthcare? Compassion is not merely an action, but a way of being. To “be” a Compassionate Healer involves more than acting in a kind manner, it requires engaging in radical empathy. Being compassionate meets meeting another person “where they are”, in an effort to understand (from their perspective) what they are sensing and experiencing. Being compassionate means to listen and respond in such a way, that you begin to understand on a holistic level, the degree of distress or suffering the person experiences.

The “act” of the the Compassionate Healer begins at the entry point in the health care relationship, where the physician has an opportunity to create the foundation for a strong, respectful, compassionate patient-provider health care relationship. It starts before the patient and physician meet, with the physician being prompt; demonstrating respect for the patient’s time and schedule. The physician then should conduct a detailed patient assessment of the multifaceted dimensions (emotional, physical, spiritual, environmental, financial) which are deeply woven into their patient’s beliefs and perceptions of their health and wellness. This approach exhibits empathy and awareness that the patient is a unique and complex human being. The physician must then build the relationship through being empathetic and acting with deep listening, learning and exploring sources of illness and treatment options; utilizing a model of shared decision making. This approach engenders equality in the relationship along with respect, compassion and kindness.

The foundation for positive, successful health outcomes in the health care delivery system lies in the patient-physician relationship, and the Compassionate Healer is the key to this relationship. The Compassionate healer brings trust, empathy, emotional support, and the desire to truly understand and alleviate the patient’s suffering and disease. As our health care system continues towards drastic change, training and supporting the role of the Compassionate Healer must become a priority.

References:

Beach, M. C., Keruly, J., & Moore, R. D. (2006). Is the Quality of the Patient-Provider Relationship Associated with Better Adherence and Health Outcomes for Patients with HIV? Journal of General Internal Medicine, 21(6), 661–665. http://doi.org/10.1111/j.1525-1497.2006.00399.

DelCanale, et. al. (2012).The Relationship between Physician Empathy and Disease Complications: an empirical study of primary care physicians and their diabetic patients in Parma, Italy. Academic Medicine, 2012 Sep;87(9):1243-9.

Ha, J. F., & Longnecker, N. (2010). Doctor-Patient Communication: A Review.The Ochsner Journal, 10(1), 38–43.

Schleiter, K. E. (2009). Difficult Patient-Physician Relationships and the Risk of Medical Malpractice Litigation. AMA Journal of Ethics, Volume 11, Number 3: 242-246.

Sharing, MayoClinic. (2016). Eight Lessons on Compassion in Health Care from the Dalai Lama. Sharing Mayo Clinic, March 4,2016. http://sharing.mayoclinic.org/discussion/eight-lessons-on-in-health-care-from-the-dalai-lama/

*provider and physician are used interchangeably

Compassion and the Individual

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His Holiness the XIV Dalai Lama is a recognized global expert and teacher in the human trait of compassion. He believes, and we agree; that every individual desires a life filled with happiness and contentment. Happiness can be found in many ways, but love and compassion are the primary sources in the development of happiness. During our lives, we all experience some degree of suffering. When an individual becomes ill, suffering is common. It is in these moments that we cherish compassion, and are dependent upon another for support and care. When that caring is provided with sincere love and compassion, the quality of the healing experience and recovery are positively influenced. Every individual, in every interaction seeks to feel valued, respected, understood and appreciated. These feelings are vital to our happiness and well-being, and are critical components to the inter-dependency we share in our health care relationships.  The Dalai Lama outlines this well in his article, “Compassion and the Individual“.

The “Eyes of Truth” in Transformation

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We swirl in cycles of life, loss, death, transformation, and rebirth. All that withers, or dies, gives rise to the cycle in creating anew.  This process of transformation when observed through the lens of awareness, is an exquisite process of evolution and growth.

Just as the darkness of the chrysalis gives way to the beauty of the monarch butterfly; the wounds that bind us give way to new awareness and understanding. When we become lost in the binding of “our” chrysalis, we lose sight of our process of growth and renewal. We hold fast to our binding, clinging to the darkness that enfolds us, allowing it to enclose us from within. From this small vantage point we are unable to experience our chrysalis as it surrounds us in a blanket of protected comfort.

This phase of darkness and shadow exists in us all. It may come many times, and in many forms throughout this life experience . This chrysalis we create, is our opportunity to see deeply into our “old” being, and to transmute from within, in order to regenerate and recreate ourselves anew. Our chrysalis is our gift to ourselves, our gift to redesign all aspects of our being.

We are experts in this process of transformation. We have died and been reborn through many cycles and life times, through the experiences of pain, trauma, disease, unrest, loss, and suffering. Our deepest challenge inside this created chrysalis, is the loss of our “eyes of truth”, our insight into our highest, most conscious expansive state of existence.  We have lost our vision, and within the dark womb of our chrysalis we are lost, afraid, and alone. In these moments, that we are unable to grasp the truth of our being, our experience of our greatest selves, and our qualities of limitless potentialities.  Within the darkness of this womb, we cannot remember the dream and experience of flight. We suffer, as we only remember our experiences of pain and darkness. Within our chrysalis womb, we cannot experience the vastness of all that is, for we are bound and held firmly in place (by our beliefs).

Through lifetimes of suffering, we have lost our vision, our “eyes of truth”. Yet, consciousness has now evolved collectively, where we may see through the darkness within this womb, into our matrix of complexity. Here we will find the silver threads of our light, threads that unravel the darkness of our created chrysalis; thus unfolding pieces of wisdom and insight. Each silver thread becomes a chain of wisdom, driving us ever deeper into understanding of our greater more expansive selves. As we begin to  “see truly” our light of consciousness grows, and we understand our highest selves.

Our awareness has focused on this small dark space of chrysalis we formed. Yet, with a simple shift in our understanding we recognize that we hang from the vine of an exquisite tree, and as we gently sway, we are waiting to give birth to our divine being. A being so expansive and beautiful, that soon will take flight. With our “true eyes” we see that all that holds us there, is but a mere silver thread that holds our chrysalis to the tree, and that we are wrapped in fine soft layers of silver thread,  holding us within.  If only we had these “eyes” to see our true experience, to know in the most magnificent way that soon we will take flight to glide ever so softly upon the winds.

Oh, how magnificent it would be, if our ” true eyes” could see such a transformation. We would revel in the experience of our silver chrysalis womb, as we eagerly await our new flight.