Monday, February 10, 2014

Learning To Touch

In an earlier post, I introduced you to my hospice experience with my Mom and promised I'd let you in on some of the lessons I learned. Here's the first lesson:

I was not born into a touchy-feely family. As a child, I remember being rather jealous of my friends who were. Fast forward a few decades and I'm more than happy to give or receive a hug or hold a hand. Believing touch is a pleasant and essential human need, it stands to reason that I faced a bit of a dilemma as my Mom approached the end of her life. Could I, dare I practice the art of touch with her? How would I feel if she resisted? Could I swallow my own pride andlearn to touch her with care, compassion and love in whatever time we had left? Why yes, yes, I could! You see, one of the lessons I learned is that death has a profound way of giving us gifts we may not have accepted in life.
A hairbrush on a bedside table called my name and I began to slowly brush Mom's silvery silken hair. Unfocused eyes struggled to meet mine as she leaned into the gentle strokes. I was mesmerized and I was forever changed. My gift had been accepted and I took the breath I didn't realize I had been holding, grateful beyond words. For the last two weeks of Mom's life, I held or stroked her hands, placed cool rags on her forehead and brushed her hair with her own antique brush set brought from home. My touch was never rebuffed, always welcomed, and oh-so-healing for both of us.

Years later, my brother told me he wished he could hold Dad's hands as Dad neared the end of his life, but was too afraid. The gist of my little-sister-rant was "do it!" My brother was met with a similar result; his gift of touch was accepted and became a gift back to him.

What unexpected gifts have you found in your loved one's final weeks, days or hours?

This blog entry was written by Laura Adams, Administrative Assistant to The Arbor Hospice Foundation. You may contact Laura by commenting below or emailing her at

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