Being the caregiver to someone receiving palliative care is truly not unlike being a caregiver at any other time. The keys are respect, compassion and empathy. Definitely not feeling sorry for the patient or the family, rather compassion; which is to understand the sadness and honor that feeling. Acknowledge situation, the strong feeling of lack of control and provide an ear to listen.
Caregivers are often placed in uncomfortable positions. This situation should be one of honor; after all the caregiver is present at a very significant time in the patient’s life and the family’s transition. The caregiver has been ask to be present, which acknowledges a profound trust in the caregiver to observe, help, teach and back away at the right moment to allow families to be completely whole for the last moments.
Palliative Care is not something to fear or hide from, this is a time with such significance in the persons and family’s lives anyone should be honored to be ask to be present. This is a nature transition to a life well lived and well given to others. This care will, if allowed, provide a clear window into the sole of the person and the world beyond. Palliative care is in itself not religious or spiritual; rather it is the medical management of end of life transition. This specialized care is a way to move from this life on without pain or fear.
Caregivers should read, study and come to a solace within them prior to approaching this type of care. If uncomfortable with this care, please do not say yes to providing it. If unsure, go with another caregiver who is familiar and attend with that caregiver the entire time they are working the case. This will allow at any time for an unfamiliar or unsure caregiver to slip quietly away.