Handholding is not just for children and lovers – by Barbara Darius

09.15.2015 | Barbara DariusThe word "HOSPICE" spelled out.

During another visit I was making my rounds and I heard this woman moaning. I go in to the room and I see the elderly lady that I now know is Mrs. P.  Her left hand is up at the elbow, her eyes are closed, and she is moaning.  I take her hand and I ask her if she wants me to get a nurse. Mrs. P. looks up at me, recloses her eyes, and continues to moan. I continue to hold her hand and with the other hand I brush back the top of her head/hair. I was telling her “I am going to hang out here awhile until you feel better. Everything is going to be ok. I am Barbara, one of the volunteers and I will just sit here with you if it is ok”.

She stopped moaning. I was shocked. I actually made a difference just by touching them and talking to them! I felt empowered!  At the time I could not tell you why I did that, but upon reflection I remember when I was in the hospital with Bacterial Meningitis, the ICU staff had to insert a central venous catheter in my neck. The staff had turned my face to the left while they covered my entire head with some type of paper to prevent infection as they made an incision on the right side of my neck. I remember panicking and screaming “Help!!”.  I grabbed someone’s hand (or they grabbed my hand – I don’t remember), held it, and I calmed down. When I would start panicking again, I would receive verbal encouragement (e.g. “You are doing really well, Barbara, just a few more minutes”) and I would calm down again.  I believe that when I received out to Mrs. P. I subconsciously remembered holding a hand and speaking softly worked for me and I responded in kind hoping it would work for her. Next week, I checked in on Mrs. P. and her skinned tightened and her teeth were exposed – just like Mr. G.; and just like Mr. G., Mrs. P. has expired before my next visit a week later.

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